Hamas executes 3 Palestinians for assassination of commander

Hamas put to death three men it accused of killing Mazzen Fuqaha, a senior commander.

Hamas’ Interior Ministry told reporters that two men were hanged and one was executed by a firing squad. The three received death sentences Sunday after a brief, week-long special military court that found them guilty of killing Fuqaha.

Rights groups slammed the trial, calling it unprecedented given its speed and lack of due process.

The executions took place at police headquarters and were attended by hundreds of people, including Hamas officials and community leaders.

Part of the spectacle was streamed live on Facebook.

The assassination of Fuqaha, a shadowy senior figure in Hamas’ military wing, shocked Hamas.

Fuqaha, 38, was shot in the garage of his apartment building on March 24. Hamas said the assassin used a weapon with a silencer, allowing him to escape undetected before his body was discovered an hour later.

Hamas immediately accused Israel of killing him through collaborators and launched a manhunt.

Israel had sentenced Fuqaha to nine terms of life imprisonment for directing deadly suicide bombing attacks. He was freed along with more than 1,000 other Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a single Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in 2011.

Fuqaha was reportedly in the process of planning and directing terror attacks in Judea and Samaria

Hamas has put to death 25 people sentenced under its judicial system since 2007 when it took over Gaza in bloody street battles. Hamas also killed 23 people without trials during Operation Protective Edge.

Rights groups have questioned the fairness of trials under the Hamas system.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the executions.

“Rushing to put men to death based on an unreviewable decision of a special military court days after announcing their arrests and airing videoed confessions smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law,” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director, said.

“Reliance on confessions, in a system where coercion, torture and deprivation of detainee’s rights are prevalent, and other apparent due process violations further taint the court’s verdicts. Death as government-sanctioned punishment is inherently cruel and always wrong, no matter the circumstance,” she said.

The UN office of the high commissioner for human rights also condemned the killings, saying the special field military court that issued the sentences “was constituted solely for this trial, the first such instance since the Hamas takeover of Gaza”.

By: World Israel News Staff and AP