WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
Gaza City: Militants believed to be from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigade publicly executed six men accused of collaborating with Israel, as Israel's air force stepped up its aerial bombing campaign in one of the deadliest days of its military campaign in Gaza.
The corpse of a collaborator was tied to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through central Gaza City in front of a convoy of bikes, his pants pulled down and his arms splayed behind him.
Witnesses said six men had earlier been taken onto a main street in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City and forced to lay down on the ground, where they were shot to death.
A message reportedly pinned to the bodies read: “Al-Qassam Brigades announces the execution of the traitors” who “contributed to the martyrdom of many fighters by reporting their position… and giving the enemy information about the movement of the fighters.”
Human rights group are still investigating the incidents, and Issam Younis, director of the Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights said he was unable to confirm who caught or killed the men.
“Some of the names that have been mentioned to me tonight [as collaborators who were killed] had already been charged and sentenced to death. They were not just taken from the street today and shot,” Mr Younis
“Collaborators are a very serious issue in Palestinian society. According to many hundreds of cases there have been extremely serious crimes committed by collaborators, especially in situations like this.”
But instead of summary executions, collaborators should be charged and dealt with in line with the law, with their legal rights protected, Mr Younis said.
“It is the state of Israel targeting civilians and leaders of the resistance – they are doing it with drones but they are also using collaborators,” he said.
Indeed the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights notes that collaborators with Israel “are an integral part of the occupation's structure and one of the most effective weapons used by the Israeli military in maintaining the illegal occupation".
“Collaborators cooperate in, and even carry out, crimes of the Israeli military – crimes which often constitute war crimes as defined under international humanitarian law.”
Also vocal in its opposition to the death penalty, the PCHR said collaborators must be dealt with in strict accordance with international standards on arrest, detention and the right to a fair trial.
The execution of the six men follows a similar incident on Friday, in which Palestinian militants publicly executed a man accused of providing intelligence to the Israeli army.
A note was attached to his body claiming he confessed to participating in 15 Israeli assassination operations.
In September a Gaza court sentenced a man to death on charges of collaborating with Israel, the Maan news agency reported.
The executions came on the seventh day of an Israeli military offensive that has killed more than 120 Palestinians, both militants and civilians, as well as four Israelis, including a soldier who died today.