Hamas, the terrorist group which rules the Gaza Strip, announced Sunday that it would begin conducting public executions, according to a report by AFP.
Palestinian law allows the application of the death penalty in cases of murder, drug trafficking and collaboration with Israel. However, public execution is typically reserved for accused collaborators. The most recent public execution took place in 2014, following Operation Protective Edge, when Hamas put six men to death by firing squad outside the main mosque in Gaza City. As many as 12 others may have also been killed for the same charge, according to various reports from witnesses.
What makes the upcoming executions significant is that the convicted were charged in criminal offenses. Hamas official Khalil al-Haya announced Friday that 13 men, mostly charged with murder in connection to armed robberies, were sitting on death row.
“Capital punishments will be implemented soon in Gaza,” attorney general Ismail Jaber was quoted by The Times of Israel as saying. “I ask that they take place before a large crowd.”
Families of the men’s victims obtained rare permission to demonstrate Sunday, rallying in support of the executions. According to al-Haya, “The victims’ families have the right to demand that the punishments be implemented.”
More than 170 death sentences have been handed down in the Palestinian Authority (PA) since its creation in 1994. To date, 30 of these have been carried out, mostly in Gaza. Officially, all executions require the permission of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, but his legitimacy is rejected by Hamas, as his four-year term expired in 2009. According to Israel National News, the PA has decried all executions carried out by Hamas since 2005, when Abbas placed a moratorium on the death penalty.