18 Gazans were rounded up and summarily executed by Hamas gunmen on Friday on suspicion of collaborating with Israel’s security services, less than two days after two of the top commanders of the Hamas armed wing were killed in an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip.
AFP quoted witnesses in Gaza as saying that six of the men were grabbed out of a crowd of hundreds at a Gaza City mosque and were gunned down outside the mosque after being accused of collaborating with Israel. Reuters reported a total of seven men were executed outside Omari mosque on Palestine Square in the city and that another 11 were killed at an abandoned police station outside of town, quoting Hamas security officials.
Reuters also reported that a letter was found posted near some of the bodies saying the condemned had given information on the locations of fighters, rockets, tunnels, and other Hamas assets, and “therefore, the ruling of revolutionary justice was handed upon him.”
According to Israel Radio, the executed included two women.
Such scenes—masked gunmen in all black corralling the condemned through the streets of Gaza—were expected ever since Wednesday night, when an Israeli air strike on a house in the southern Gaza city of Rafah killed two of the top Hamas commanders in the Strip, Mohammed Abu Shamaleh and Raed al-Attar, along with a third Hamas operative. The two commanders were among the most high-level targets on Israel’s most wanted list, and after the successful Israeli strike it was expected that Hamas would try and identify suspected collaborators, or at the very least make a show of publicly killing a number of people in order to send a message.
Wednesday night’s air strike came after a strike on a house in a Gaza City neighborhood the night before that targeted the head of the Hamas Military Wing Mohammed Deif. Hamas has denied that Deif was in the house during the strike, which killed his wife and infant son, and Israel has made no official statement.