A Palestinian man reacts after an Israeli air strike near smuggling tunnels in Rafah
A Palestinian man reacts after an Israeli air strike near smuggling tunnels between the southern Gaza Strip and Egypt in Rafah. © Said Khatib - AFP
A Palestinian man reacts after an Israeli air strike near smuggling tunnels in Rafah
Selim Saheb Ettaba, AFP
Last updated: November 22, 2012

Gaza conflict unveils two faces of Hamas

A car drags the body of an executed "collaborator" through Gaza City, streets away from where a team of foreign dignitaries come to show solidarity with Gazans under Israeli fire.

The scene served to highlight the two faces of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, faced with Western diplomatic isolation despite its 2006 election triumph, has played up the successive high-level foreign visits since the November 14 launch of Israel's deadly onslaught on the Palestinian territory.

To the sound of celebratory honking of car horns, the bare-footed body of the young man was strung to a back bumper and paraded in a convoy led by motorbikes through the Nasser district of Gaza City, an AFP journalist said.

Gunmen executed six alleged collaborators with Israel on Tuesday, witnesses said, adding that notices were pinned to their bodies saying they had been killed by Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

"Gunmen in a minibus pulled up in the neighbourhood, pushed six men out and shot them without leaving the vehicle," one of the witnesses said.

The witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the message pinned to the bodies read: "Al-Qassam Brigades announces the execution of the traitors."

The message said the men were killed "for their participation in providing information about the capabilities of the resistance and their factions and giving the enemy information about the movement of the fighters."

The men, the message added, "contributed to the martyrdom of many fighters by reporting their position." One of them was dragged through the streets behind a motorbike, as seen in a photograph distributed by AFP.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) denounced the executions in a statement on its website.

"At the climax of the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip and the crimes committed against the Palestinian civilian population, we were extremely shocked by the extra-judicial killing of six Palestinians by gunmen on Tuesday... for alleged collaboration with Israeli occupation forces," it said.

"Searching for and prosecuting collaborators for betraying their people... must be done in the framework of the rule of law and respect for human rights, and ensuring the suspects' legal rights, including the right to fair trials."

The PCHR also noted that Hamas deputy politburo chief Musa Abu Marzuk had denounced the killings on his Facebook page.

"The way these collaborators were killed is absolutely unacceptable, those who are found responsible must be held accountable and such actions must not be recurred," PCHR quoted Abu Marzuk as saying.

The scene showing the body being dragged was played out down the street from the Dallu family home where, after the roads had been washed of blood, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya hosted an Arab League delegation led by secretary general Nabil al-Arabi.

"Here's the legitimate Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya," a Hamas spokesman announced on a loudspeaker, listing the guests, among them Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Egyptian and Saudi counterparts.

"This is the prime minister rejected by Israel and the United States," he declared, as the foreign dignitaries made their way through the dense crowd under the watchful eyes of their bodyguards.

They struggled to reach friends of the family, at least eight of whose members were killed when an Israeli air strike destroyed their home last Sunday, seated next to the ruins to pay condolences.

The visitors then made their way to Gaza City's main Al-Shifa hospital, where scenes of chaos broke out on their arrival and the bodies of the six "collaborators" were kept out of sight in the morgue.

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