Hamas court sentences six to death for ‘collaborating’ with Israel

In total 14 people were sentenced for "collaborating with the occupation," with six sentenced to be hanged, a statement from the interior ministry in Gaza said.​ (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2018
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Hamas court sentences six to death for ‘collaborating’ with Israel

  • The six sentenced to death were not related to the November 11 flareup
  • Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response, with the Jewish state striking dozens of targets in Gaza before a ceasefire agreement

GAZA CITY: A military court in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Monday sentenced six people, including a woman, to death for “collaborating” with Israel, authorities said.
In total 14 people were sentenced for “collaborating with the occupation,” with five sentenced to be hanged and one shot, the interior ministry in Gaza said.
Eight others were sentenced to hard labor ranging from six to 15 years.
The rulings came after eight people were killed when an Israeli special forces operation in Gaza was uncovered on November 11, leading to a vicious firefight.
Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response, with the Jewish state striking dozens of targets in Gaza before a November 13 cease-fire agreement.
The six sentenced to death Monday were not directly related to the flareup, officials said.
Iyad Al-Bozum, the spokesman of the interior ministry in Gaza, told AFP they were linked “to a communications and eavesdropping device planted by the (Israeli) occupation.”
Six Hamas members were killed when the device apparently exploded after detection near Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza in May.
The six condemned to death on Monday ranged in age from 29 to 55 and had each allegedly been working with Israeli intelligence for several years.
Among those sentenced to hang was a woman living inside Israel, named as Amal Mahmoud, 55.
She was sentenced in absentia and is alleged to have encouraged her nephew in Gaza to collaborate with Israeli intelligence, according to the interior ministry.
Bozum hailed the rulings as a “clear message” to those who would cooperate with Israel.
“Collaborators must realize the (Israeli) occupation will not be able to protect them,” he told a news conference.
The verdicts drew condemnation from Human Rights Watch.
“Rushing to sentence people to death smacks of militia rule, not the rule of law,” said Omar Shakir, the watchdog’s director for Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“The death penalty is a barbaric practice and always wrong, no matter the circumstance,” he told AFP.
It was not clear when the executions of those in custody would take place.
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 28 executions have been carried out in Gaza since Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave in 2007 from rival faction Fatah.
In May 2017, Hamas security forces invited journalists to attend the hanging in Gaza City of three men convicted over the assassination of a senior Hamas military commander.
During the 2014 war with Israel, a firing squad from Hamas’s armed wing killed six men accused of collaborating with the Jewish state.
Hamas and its allies have fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and the Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for a decade.
Israel says the measure is necessary to isolate Hamas and prevent it from obtaining weapons, though critics say it amounts to collective punishment of the territory’s two million residents.


Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

Syrian pro-government forces hold a position near the village of al-Malihah, in the northern countryside of Deir Ezzor, on September 9, 2017, during the ongoing battle against Daesh group. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Syria media says no attack on airport after reported air defense fire

  • The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media said Sunday that air defenses had opened fire near Damascus airport, before withdrawing the report after what appeared to be a false alarm.
“Our air defenses engaged hostile aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport,” the official SANA news agency said, without providing more details.
But the report was later withdrawn by both SANA and state television without explanation.
SANA then quoted sources at the airport as saying that “there was no aggression” and that “traffic was normal.”
A well-informed source told AFP that “there was evidently a false alarm.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the sound of explosions rocked an area close to the airport and fire from air defenses was also heard.
The latest incident comes just over a week after Syria accused Israel of striking south of the capital.
The Britain-based Observatory said those were the first missiles to hit Syria since an air defense upgrade after the downing of a Russian plane in September.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, many of them in the area south of Damascus.
Iran and Russia are the government’s key allies in the civil war that has raged Syria since 2011, and Moscow’s intervention in 2015 dramatically turned the tables against the rebels.
The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel.
Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing on Israel, saying its fighter jet used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.
Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defenses with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus insisted would make Israel “think carefully” before carrying out further air raids.
The move raised fears in Israel that its ability to rein in its arch foe Iran’s military presence in Syria would be sharply reduced.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia that Israel would continue to hit hostile targets, while also maintaining “security coordination” with Moscow.