(Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Hamas Gaza

Hamas executed one of its commanders suspected of revealing to Israel information about Mohammed Deif, a senior terrorist in Gaza wanted by Israel. 

Hamas, the Islamic terror group that rules Gaza, said Sunday that it has executed one of its own commanders over unnamed “moral and behavioral violations.”

Hamas said in a short Twitter statement that Mahmoud Eshtewi, a local member of the group’s Al-Qassam military wing, was killed after he confessed. It said the decision to kill Eshtewi, who was detained in January 2015, was taken by its “military and religious judiciary,” a previously unheard-of department.

AFP quotes sources familiar with the case calling who say he was a senior official who was accused of spying for Israel.

Eshtewi’s duties included overseeing terror tunnels that are used to store weapons and carry out attacks against Israel, the sources added.

Hamas has executed dozens of Palestinians it accused of spying or collaborating with Israel, some of them in the street in public events. This appears to be the first time Al-Qassam itself had sentenced one of its own through a court martial and executed him.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said in late December that nine death sentences had been issued in the Gaza Strip in 2015 and two in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

AP says the vague language used in the statement indicated Eshtewi was killed for reasons other than spying.

“We are shocked,” his sister, Buthaina, screamed over the phone. “He can’t be executed based on the reasons they provide.”

She said Hamas officials had met the family in the morning and told them that they were considering his release. “They tricked us,” she said.

Eshtewi’s relatives said they had only been allowed to visit him three times during the year he was detained. They said he was not found guilty of spying, without elaborating.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was following Eshtewi’s case “with concern” after his family told the New York-based group that he was arrested and tortured for criticizing more senior Hamas commanders.

Sari Bashi, HRW’s Israel-Palestine director, said the rights group was unable to visit him, but that his family’s claims were “consistent with persistent and credible reports that Hamas security forces have been arresting and torturing those who express criticism.”

Bashi urged Hamas to investigate and “rein in security forces to prevent future killings from taking place.”

By: AP and United with Israel Staff