Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas claimed success on Thursday in their month-long campaign to encourage people accused of collaborating with Israel to turn themselves in.
“The campaign to combat espionage achieved a number of goals, and from this evening the deadline for Israeli collaborators to turn themselves in has ended,” said interior ministry spokesman Islam Shahwan.
“Successes were achieved,” he said, adding that the number of people now believed to be working on behalf of Israel was “low.”
On March 12, Hamas, which is blacklisted as a terror group by the United States and the European Union, set a one-month ultimatum for alleged collaborators to turn themselves in in return for leniency.
“A number of agents turned themselves in,” he said, without giving a number and saying only that they would be “dealt with” according to Palestinian law.
Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel is punishable by death.
All execution orders must be approved by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognises the legitimacy of incumbent Mahmud Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009.
During a major eight-day confrontation with Israel in November, at least seven people were gunned down after being accused of being collaborators.
The bodies of six were dragged behind vehicles through the streets of Gaza City.
The killings were claimed by Hamas militants from the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades in a note pinned to their bodies, accusing them of being traitors.
New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch criticised Hamas on Thursday for failing to investigate the killings as promised.
“Hamas’s inability or unwillingness to investigate the brazen murders of seven men makes a mockery of its claims that it is upholding the rule of law in Gaza,” HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said in a statement.