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From the field

Hamas authorities execute a man in Gaza

On Wednesday, 2 Oct. 2013, Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip executed Hani Muhammad Muhammad Abu 'Alayan, 27, resident of Khan Yunis. 'Alayan was sentenced to death on 16 September 2012  by a civilian court in Gaza for two counts of murder, one of them committed while he was a minor. His sentence was upheld in appeal on 12 July 2013.

Since Hamas seized control of Gaza, 45 people have been sentenced to death by its courts, and 16 people have been executed, including some who were sentenced to death before the Hamas takeover.

In the West Bank, Palestinian Authority courts have sentenced 71 people to death since the PA was established in 1995.

Under Palestinian law, execution of a condemned person requires authorization by the President of the Palestinian Authority. Since assuming the presidency in 2005, Mahmoud Abbas has refused to authorize executions, and therefore none have been performed since that time in the West Bank. In the years before Abbas took office, 13 people were executed. West Bank courts continue to mete out death sentences; the latest one handed down was in 2011.

In Gaza, the Hamas regime resumed executions, arguing that Abbas’ tenure expired and his authorization is no longer required.

There are currently 55 people on death row in Hamas and PA prisons, living with uncertainty as to their eventual fate. Nine of them are in West Bank prisons and the rest are in the Gaza Strip.

B’Tselem condemns the use of capital punishment, which is both immoral and a grave violation of human rights. The state may not take a person’s life and violate that person’s right to life as a punitive measure, even if it is ostensibly for the purpose of law enforcement. There is no place for capital punishment in the law books, no matter the circumstances.