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Fri August 22, 2014
Hamas Executes Suspected Informants After Deadly Israeli Strike
Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 1:27 pm
Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET
One day after an Israeli airstrike killed three of its senior military leaders, Hamas says it has executed more than a dozen people in the Gaza Strip, after concluding that they had been spying for Israel.
A four-year-old Israeli boy was also reportedly killed in a mortar attack near the Gaza border.
From Jerusalem, NPR's Jackie Northam reports:
"Hamas confirmed that there were two separate rounds of executions in Gaza for people suspected of collaborating with Israel.
"In one instance, 11 men were rounded up recently and investigated by the Hamas government. They were found guilty and all 11 were sentenced to death.
"In another instance, three men were arrested yesterday and summarily executed. Analysts say these men were most likely accused of being linked to Israeli attacks yesterday which killed three high-ranking Hamas leaders, men who had led operations against Israel for the past two decades.
"Israel says it is ramping up its efforts to target senior leaders of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas."
As we reported Thursday, one of the Hamas leaders killed in southern Gaza was Raed al Attar, its most important commander in that area. He and the other men were killed in an attack on a house. Earlier this week, the group's top military leader, Mohammed Deif, reportedly eluded a strike that killed his wife and two young children.
In Israel, Haaretz reports that the number of suspected informants who were executed has risen to 18, after a public execution was held in a town square in Gaza.
The website Ynet News describes what it says were the first public executions in Gaza since the 1990s:
"The victims, their heads covered and hands tied, were shot dead by masked gunmen dressed in black in front of a crowd of worshippers outside a mosque after prayers, witnesses and al-Majd, a pro-Hamas website, said."
Today, Israel and Hamas militants are continuing to launch airstrikes, rockets and mortars at one another, after a cease-fire failed early this week. The current conflict is now in its 46th day.
Israel also said today that a four-year-old boy had been killed by Hamas artillery near the Gaza border — the first death since a Israeli death since a temporary truce collapsed last week.
The boy was killed when a mortar hit a kindergarten near the border, the Israel Defense Forces say.