EU officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Wednesday condemned Gaza’s Hamas rulers for executing three prisoners and urged the Islamist movement to give up the practice of capital punishment.
The Hamas-run interior ministry on Saturday said three prisoners had been executed, one of whom was convicted of “collaborating” with Israel and two others were deemed complicit in murder.
All three were hanged in what were the first such executions this year.
A Hamas statement said the families of the victims could have saved the condemned men by forgiving them at the last minute, but they all refused.
“The de facto authorities in Gaza must refrain from carrying out any executions of prisoners and comply with the de facto moratorium on executions put in place by the Palestinian Authority, pending abolition of the death penalty in line with the global trend,” a European Union statement said.
“The EU considers that abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. It considers capital punishment to be cruel and inhuman, failing to provide deterrence to criminal behavior, and representing an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”
The last time prisoners were executed on charges of collaborating was in July 2011, when two Palestinians were put to death on the charge.
A month later, three more people were executed on charges unrelated to collaboration, rights groups say.
Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are all punishable by death.
All execution orders must be approved by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognizes the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers have executed at least 18 men since seizing power in 2007.
In recent months, Hamas has arrested several alleged collaborators, and warned it would prosecute any “traitor” working for the Jewish state.
The Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, also has the death penalty. But President Abbas has not approved an execution since 2004, effectively halting the practice there.