Hamas executes 2 Palestinians
Gaza City - The Hamas rulers of Gaza have executed two Palestinians convicted of collaborating with Israel despite objections from human rights groups, hospital and other sources said on Thursday.
The two were executed by a firing squad overnight, said Samir Zakut of the Palestinian al-Misan human rights group.
Police would not allow journalists to enter the al-Shifa hospital, but medical sources there confirmed the two bodies were delivered during the night.
The Hamas-run government did not immediately confirm the executions, but said in March it would carry them out.
"The death penalty will be implemented for (Israeli) agents who have been sentenced to death, regardless of the position of rights groups that reject these kinds of sentences," Hamas interior minister Fathi Hammad said at the time.
Hamas has approved the death penalty for informers, murderers and drug dealers but has not officially executed anyone since it seized power in Gaza in June 2007, driving out forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas who now holds sway in the West Bank only.
However, several alleged informers were killed by armed groups during the devastating 22-day military offensive Israel launched on December 27 2008, according to rights groups.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Gaza's Islamist rulers of killing at least 32 political opponents and suspected informers during and after the war, and of maiming dozens of others.
Palestinian law says the president must approve all execution orders before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognises the legitimacy of Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009.
Israeli security forces routinely use Palestinian informers in the occupied territories. They play a key role in thwarting attacks and assassinating top militants.