Palestinian informer is shot dead in town square

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The Independent Online

A Palestinian suspected by militants of collaboration with Israel was publicly shot dead with automatic weapons yesterday in the crowded main square of a West Bank town.

A Palestinian suspected by militants of collaboration with Israel was publicly shot dead with automatic weapons yesterday in the crowded main square of a West Bank town.

The lynching by four men from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah, was watched by more than a hundred apparently enthusiastic spectators in Qabatiya, north of Nablus.

The militants forced Muhammed Rafiq Daraghmeh, 45, into the square and asked him whether he had collaborated with Israeli intelligence. The man, a bearded father of two daughters, said: "Yes." They then asked whether relatives had been right to report that he had sexually molested his daughters and the man again replied: "Yes." At that point one of the gunmen went to the crowd thronging round the militants and asked, "What should his sentence be?" Reuters, one of whose news teams witnessed the killing, said that some residents remained in nearby cafés, while the crowd shouted back: "Execution!" and "Kill him, kill him." The news agency said that militants then pushed the cowering Daraghmeh to the ground, riddled him with automatic fire, got into a car and drove off at speed. The all-male crowd continued to stand round the corpse until an ambulance arrived to remove it. Several spectators expressed satisfaction, saying, "He deserved it."

Mr Daraghmeh allegedly guided Israeli soldiers to hideouts of militants who were killed or arrested.

Jamal Abu Rab, local commander of the al-Aqsa Brigade, said: "It was necessary to make an example for others to deter them from collaborating."

The dead man bore signs of stab wounds which a cousin said had been inflicted by a brother when relatives tried to kill him to redeem the family's honour. The cousin said: "What he did was shameful. We considered him no longer one of us."

Militants have killed at least 30 Palestinians accused of being informers for Israel since the present uprising started nearly four years ago. The Palestinian Authority local government minister, Jamal al-Shobaki, said: "We want every act to be carried out via legal channels and oppose anyone who behaves otherwise. However, we are incapable of enforcing law and order in Palestinian areas [subject to] occupation."

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