Hamas condemned over killing of 21 suspected informants

Conflict set to escalate as four-year-old Israeli child is killed by bomb from Gaza

Hamas militants grab Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, before executing them in Gaza City on Friday. Photogtaph: Reuters/Stringer

Hamas militants grab Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, before executing them in Gaza City on Friday. Photogtaph: Reuters/Stringer

 

International and Palestinian human rights organisations have condemned yesterday’s killing, by Hamas, of 21 suspected informants in response to Israel’s targeted killing of three senior militants on Thursday.

Eleven executions were carried out at an abandoned police station and another seven people, their heads covered and hands tied, were shot by masked men in Hamas uniforms outside the Al-Umari mosque in front of a crowd of worshippers following Friday prayers.

At least two of those killed were women. Three suspected collaborators were also executed on Thursday, in a campaign codenamed “Strangling Necks”. Hamas warned of more executions in “the near future”.

Pictures showed a group of men, with their heads covered and hands tied behind their backs, kneeling against a wall.

Masked Hamas fighters dressed in black and armed with AK47s pushed them to the ground before shooting them.

The mosque’s imam asked worshippers to inform Hamas security officials about anyone suspected of behaving strangely or asking about fighters.

“We have to protect our mujahideen [fighters] and back them, not let the Zionist occupation [Israel] easily target them as happened in Rafah with commanders,” he said.

A notice attached to a wall detailed the charges against one suspect. It said he or she had provided “information to the enemy on the places of mujahideen [fighters]”.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza denounced the killing of those accused of being collaborators.

“We demand the Palestinian Authority and the resistance intervene to stop these extra-judicial executions, no matter what reasons and the motives are,” Raji al-Surani, chairman of the organisation, said in a statement.

The conflict in Gaza seemed likely to escalate further last night after a four-year-old Israeli child was killed by a bomb fired from Gaza, prompting Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to say military strikes would be intensified.

Mr Netanyahu said Hamas would pay a “heavy price” for the killing of the boy, who was hit by a mortar fired at a kibbutz close to the Gaza border. The child was playing in his house when sirens sounded, but his parents didn’t get him to their bomb-proof room in time.

Shrapnel from the projectile, that exploded outside, smashed through the window, hitting the boy. In a phone call to the head of the local council, Mr Netanyahu said the army would intensify operations against Hamas and other militant groups until “sustained calm was guaranteed for Israel. ”

Israeli air strikes in Gaza and militant rocket fire at Israel continued unabated. At least five Palestinians were killed yesterday. Thursday’s killing of three senior Hamas militants in Rafah followed the Israeli air strike on Tuesday night on the home of Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif.

Hamas officials claim he survived but have provided no proof that he is still alive.

Israeli intelligence services rely, in part, on informers inside Gaza to pinpoint militant leaders. Ismail Haniyeh, the former Hamas prime minister in Gaza, said the struggle against Israel would continue despite the assassinations of Hamas leaders.

“We want to emphasise that despite the pain of their loss, the history of the Hamas movement has proven . . . it is stronger after every targeted killing of one of its senior members.”

“Operation Protective Edge”, which began on July 8th, is Israel’s longest military campaign in decades and there seems to be no end in sight, despite Israeli leaders describing the possibility of a drawn-out war of attrition as untenable.

At the UN the US has joined Britain, France and Germany in pressing a bid for a security council resolution on Gaza.