GAZA CITY – Authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip are planning to carry out a series of public executions, the attorney general in the Palestinian enclave said on Sunday.
Islamist movement Hamas has carried out previous executions in Gaza, although rarely in public and mainly of people accused of collaborating with Israel. Sunday’s announcement involved those convicted of criminal offenses.
“Capital punishments will be implemented soon in Gaza,” Attorney General Ismail Jaber told journalists. “I ask that they take place before a large crowd.”
Thirteen men, most convicted of murder connected to robberies, are currently awaiting execution, Hamas official Khalil al-Haya said on Friday at the mainly weekly Muslim prayers.
“The victims’ families have the right to demand that the punishments be implemented,” he said.
The families obtained rare permission on Sunday to stage a demonstration outside parliament, with dozens demanding that the executions be carried out.
The last public executions in Gaza were in 2014 during the last war with Israel when a firing squad from Hamas’s armed wing shot dead six men before Gaza City’s main mosque following prayers.
According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), nine death sentences were handed down in the Gaza Strip in 2015 and two in the occupied West Bank, run by the Palestinian Authority.
So far this year, around 10 more have been handed down in Gaza.
Palestinian law allows the death penalty for collaborators, murderers and drug traffickers.
Of the more than 170 Palestinians sentenced to death since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, around 30 have been executed, mostly in Gaza, according to the PCHR.
All execution orders must in theory be approved by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognizes his legitimacy.