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IPFS News Link • Palestine -- Israel

Hamas executed 23 Palestinians under cover of Gaza conflict, says Amnesty

• http://www.theguardian.com

Hamas has been accused of using the cover of last summer's war in Gaza to carry out summary executions, including to "settle scores" against opponents under the pretext they were "collaborators with Israel".

The claims that Hamas committed rights abuses amounting to war crimes are made in a damning report by Amnesty International highlighting abuses committed by Hamas during last summer's 50-day war.

It includes accusations that Hamas carried out the summary execution of at least 23 Palestinians and the arrest and torture of dozens of others, including members and supporters of Hamas's political rivals, Fatah.

Hamas granted its forces free rein to carry out spine-chilling actions designed to exact revenge and spread fear

Philip Luther, Amnesty International

Although Hamas described many of the summary executions as retribution against collaborators, according to Amnesty's research some 16 were already in prison either serving sentences or in the midst of ongoing legal processes at the time the conflict broke out.

The group's Middle East and North Africa director, Philip Luther, said: "It is absolutely appalling that, while Israeli forces were inflicting massive death and destruction upon the people in Gaza, Hamas forces took the opportunity to ruthlessly settle scores, carrying out a series of unlawful killings and other grave abuses.

"In the chaos of the conflict, the de facto Hamas administration granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuses, including against people in its custody. These spine-chilling actions, some of which amount to war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear across the Gaza Strip."

Barred by Israel from entering Gaza to carry out its research, Amnesty says it relied on a local field worker to conduct its interviews.

Hamas has long been accused of pursuing and committing human rights abuses against its Fatah rivals, dating back to 2007 when the Islamist group asserted its authority over the coastal strip. For its part, security forces on the West Bank where Fatah is dominant, regularly arrest Hamas members or those supporting the group – most recently four students.

Although some of those executed had cases going through the courts for collaboration or were appealing against death sentences, the group claims that Hamas used the excuse of the conflict to carry out the killings without due process.


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