Just another episode of Hamas rule in Gaza, as — quoting Reuters here — “Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza executed 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel on Friday, accelerating a crackdown on suspected informers after Israeli forces tracked down and killed the three senior Hamas commanders.”
How did these Hamas-led executions proceed? This from the New York Times: “”Masked gunmen in matching black T-shirts and pants paraded seven of the suspected collaborators, handcuffed and hooded, to their deaths before a boisterous crowd outside a downtown mosque after the Friday prayer, in a highly theatrical presentation. Photographs showed a pair of militants leaning over a doomed man on his knees against a wall, and masses of men and boys cheering and clamoring for a better view.” (Reuters has a video clip here, including the crowd and the bloodied street).
Thus runs the course of “revolutionary justice” in Gaza — which is how this process was labeled on the website Al Majd, which is described by the Times as “managed by the Internal Security Service of the Hamas government that ran Gaza until June” (when the Hamas government morphed into the “National Consensus Government” of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah).
Were there fair and impartial trials of the accused? Were they provided with lawyers, permitted to mount a defense, treated with dignity? Was their right to privacy respected? Did the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross immediately pronounce themselves appalled? Did the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, decry this mass public use of the death penalty? Did the UN Relief and Works Agency, a megaphone for Gaza, even mention these horrific executions in its daily Situation Report? Did UNRWA’s Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl, formerly of the ICRC, self-appointed arbiter of legalities in Gaza, issue an outraged denunciation of these mass executions?
You know the answer. No. There was none of that. This mass public execution of Palestinians, by Palestinians — according to Reuters, the third round of executions of suspected collaborators just this month — aroused no global outcry. The story played in the New York Times and on Reuters as a tale — albeit with gruesome touches — of Hamas defending itself against Israel. As the Times headline framed it: “Executions in Gaza Are a Warning to Spies.”
Yes, these executions are certainly a warning to spies. But how, precisely, are they less barbaric than, say, the executions of ISIS? Forget even a trace of humanity. Before a rowdy crowd, men in handcuffs and hoods are deliberately paraded by masked gunmen, herded against a wall en masse, and shot to death. For what? For alleged betrayal of a terrorist group that seized power in Gaza in 2007, in a bloody coup against other Palestinians, and uses schoolchildren and hospital patients as human shields for its attacks on Israel.
Had a scene like this Hamas mass execution taken place at Guantanamo Bay, or in Israel, it would have topped the world news, and been denounced around the world by presidents and prime ministers, with the UN Secretary-General condemning and deploring. There would have been calls for investigations and special inquiries and impeachment of the authorities. It would have rolled on for years.
Of course, there is a UN special inquiry heading for Gaza, launched by the UN Human Rights Council last month, authorized to look into the rights of Palestinians and “all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law … ” etc. etc. But the UN resolution authorizing this inquiry is focused on damning Israel to such an extent that it makes not a single mention of Hamas. The Canadian lawyer picked by the UN to head this inquiry, William Schabas, is on record as desiring to see Israel’s president and prime minister brought before the International Criminal Court, but he can’t bring himself to say whether he will even investigate Hamas. More on that scene in my article on “The U.N.’s Grotesque Gaza Inquiry.”
Will Schabas include these executions in his UN inquiry? Will any of the world eminences who pronounce themselves concerned about Palestinian rights take into account that doomed man, hooded and handcuffed, on his knees, part of a lineup shot to death by Hamas as a matter of “revolutionary justice”? That’s not just a warning to spies; it needs to be understood as a threat to the civilized world.