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UN condemns Hamas execution of five Palestinians

The United Nations on Monday condemned the execution of five Palestinians by the Hamas Islamist movement ruling the Gaza Strip, saying it was in “stark violation” of Palestinian law.

Hamas announced on Sunday that it had carried out the executions: two for “collaboration” with Israel and three for murder.

“We condemn the execution of five prisoners in Gaza and urge the de facto authorities in Gaza to establish a moratorium on all executions,” UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.

“We call on the State of Palestine to take robust measures to abolish the death penalty in all its territory.”

The executions were “in stark violation of the State of Palestine’s own domestic law and its obligations under international law”, the spokeswoman said.

She said there were serious concerns that criminal proceedings resulting in death sentences in Gaza do not meet international fair trial standards.

“The approval of the president of Palestine was not secured, as required by national law, nor were there opportunities for the executed prisoners to seek clemency or a pardon,” said Shamdasani.

“Having ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as a matter of international law, Palestine is obliged to abolish executions.”

The Palestinian Authority operates in the West Bank, home to nearly three million Palestinians who live alongside 475,000 Israeli settlers.

Hamas, meanwhile, rules over the Gaza Strip, where 2.3 million Palestinians have lived under a crippling Israeli-led blockade for 15 years.