JERUSALEM — Three Palestinians convicted of murder were executed in the Hamas-controlled coastal territory of Gaza on Tuesday, less than a week after Hamas lawmakers called for the resumption of capital punishment.
The three men had exhausted their appeals, and the families of the victims refused a last-minute request to spare the men, who were executed at police headquarters in Gaza City, according to Alresalah, a pro-Hamas website, and Maan, a Palestinian news agency.
The executions, the first approved by a court in nearly two years, were “meant to deter those who may think of committing such crimes,” the Gaza general prosecutor’s office said in a statement, according to a translation published in Maan. No one at the office was immediately available for comment.
Two men were hanged, one after being found guilty of beating another man to death with a hammer in August, Alresalah reported, and the other on a murder conviction. A third man was executed by a firing squad after he shot and killed a man in 2014 who was trying to collect a debt.
“No one should be put to death, certainly not as a part of a legal system in which torture and coercion are common,” Sari Bashi, the Human Rights Watch director for Israeli and Palestinian issues, said in a statement.
Hamas officials have carried out the death penalty at least 67 times since taking control of the territory in 2007, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights. That figure does not include extrajudicial killings by Hamas of people suspected of collaborating with Israel during the three wars of the past decade.
Most Palestinians approve of the death penalty for those convicted of spying for Israel, a crime that is viewed as deeply shameful in a society long under the shadow of a military occupation.
“The Palestinian people want this, and we are doing what they asked for,” said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas lawmaker.
Long-established tribal laws among Palestinians in Gaza allow a family to accept compensation for the killing of a loved one, to pardon the killer or to demand retribution.
Hamas leaders had halted the use of the death penalty for convicted collaborators and murderers in June 2014, but lawmakers argued that it should be revived to help address concerns about rising crime.
(via NY Times)