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Hamas condemned for extra-judicial killing of 'Israeli spy'

Al-Qassam Brigades are the military wing of the Gaza-based Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2016

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International human rights watchdog decried the 'execution' of a senior commander in Hamas' military wing, which found him guilty of passing information regarding Gaza's smuggler tunnels to Israel.

Human Rights Watch has condemned Hamas' "execution" of one of its fighters, which was carried out this weekend.

The al-Qassam Brigades - the armed wing of Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip - said it had executed one of its members on Sunday.

Sources said the man killed was a senior official and was accused of spying for Israel.

"The al-Qassam Brigades announce that the death penalty pronounced against its member Mahmud Eshtawi has been applied today," the Brigades said in a statement.

Responding to the announcement, Sari Bashi, the Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, called it "another extra-judicial killing by forces linked to Hamas".

Hamas is know to carry out killings of alleged spies in the Gaza territories it controls, often in public with "unfair" trials.

If Hamas really cares about defending the rights of Palestinian people, it will act to punish and prevent the killing of any Palestinian in rogue procedures outside the semblance of law and justice
--Sari Bashi, HRW Israel/Palestine director

However, the killing this weekend appeared to be the first time al-Qassam itself had sentenced one of its own to death through the group's court martial system.

Al-Qassam did not provide details on the accusations against him, other than to say that "the Brigades' military and Islamic judicial committee issued the sentence because he violated rules and ethics".

Eshtawi's duties included overseeing tunnels that have previously been used to store weapons and carry out attacks against Israel, sources said.

According to the sources, he was in charge of a large unit and was previously a close associate of Mohammed Deif, the al-Qassam chief who has been a frequent target of Israeli assassination attempts.

Since the start of 2016, four Gazans have been handed death sentences after being accused of spying for Israel.

Gaza has seen three wars with Israel since 2008.

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