AT DAWN earlier this month three men were led to the gallows in Gaza, the first executions for nearly a year. Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the strip, had earlier offered clemency to Palestinians who collaborate with Israel—promising that the “doors of repentance” would be open if they confessed. That was the carrot. The hangings were the stick.
These are tense times in Gaza, after the assassination on March 24th of Mazen Fuqaha, one of Hamas’ military commanders. A native of the West Bank, he was arrested in 2002 for his role in a suicide bombing in Israel, then freed in a prisoner swap in 2011 in return for a captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. He died in his garage after an afternoon outing with his family, shot four times with a silenced pistol. It was a professional job. The gunmen collected their shell casings and disabled a nearby security camera. Hamas was quick to blame Israel.
The men hanged as collaborators with Israel probably had nothing to do with it: all three were arrested long before Mr Fuqaha’s death. But their hasty executions, after years languishing in prison, were a sign of how badly the hit had rattled Hamas. The…Continue reading