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  • Hamas OKs killing of collaborators during war

    Deny allegations of targeting rival Fatah members

    The Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip on Monday approved the killing of Israeli collaborators but denied allegations it had attacked members of the rival Fatah faction during last month's war.

    "The government will show no mercy to collaborators who stab our people in the back, and they will be held accountable according to the law... if any collaborator is sentenced to death, we will not hesitate to carry it out," government spokesman Taher al-Nunu told reporters.

    "The government differentiates between violations of the law and those acts undertaken by the resistance during a time of war to protect itself from the danger of collaborators," he added.

    His remarks came after Palestinian human rights groups and victims accused the Hamas authorities of attacking dozens of members of the rival Fatah party of president Mahmoud Abbas whom the Islamists accused of working for Israel.

    The Islamist group -- which drove Abbas's loyalists from Gaza when they seized power in June 2007 -- was also accused of placing Fatah members under house arrest during the three-week-long Israeli offensive.

    Hamas government officials insist security forces apply the law equally to all Gazans, regardless of political affiliation.

    But Ihab al-Ghusein, a spokesman for the Hamas-run interior ministry, defended the killing of suspected collaborators by armed groups during the Israeli offensive in which more than 1,330 Palestinians were killed.

    "The resistance groups have nothing to do with internal security in normal times... because that is the role of the security services," he said.

    "But there were collaborators who were killed during the fighting while they were trying to strike the resistance in the back."

    Nunu said the government had not yet received any formal complaints concerning the incidents, but was investigating them nonetheless.

    The government differentiates between violations of the law and those acts undertaken by the resistance during a time of war to protect itself from the danger of collaborators

    Taher al-Nunu

    Prisoners executed

    The Gaza-based Ad-Dameer Association for Human Rights last week said that 10 prisoners were executed after they were accused of collaborating with Israel because Israeli forces bombarded the prison in which they were held.

    "There have been dozens of cases of persecution across the territory during and after the war. There have been grave violations of human rights and investigations must be launched," said Samir Mussa, a lawyer with the rights group said.

    One of the prisoners, Saleh Hajuj, was executed outside Gaza City's Al Shifa hospital, in full view of doctors and patients. He had been taken to the hospital after being wounded in the bombing.

    There have been dozens of cases of persecution across the territory during and after the war. There have been grave violations of human rights and investigations must be launched

    Samir Mussa

    The security HQ, the prisons, the courts have been destroyed. So the government settles its scores in the streets," Mussa told AFP.

    In a separate incident, Osama Attalah, a 50-year-old Fatah member, was found with a bullet in his back in the Al-Shifa mortuary after being arrested last week by masked men, one of whom carried a security ID, a relative told AFP.

    Ghusein said the killing appeared to be a case of "personal revenge" but that police were still investigating it.

    Witnesses say armed and masked Hamas men show up at night at the homes of people they deem suspect, shoot them in the legs or drag them away to be interrogated.

    The two factions have been bitterly divided since the Gaza takeover confined Abbas's authority to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Both sides have accused the other of imprisoning, torturing and killing their members

    The security HQ, the prisons, the courts have been destroyed. So the government settles its scores in the streets

    Samir Mussa