Hamas Executes 18 Accused Spies
Move follows deaths of 3 commanders in Israeli airstrikes
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2014 9:28 AM CDT
A Palestinian boy holds a representation of a rocket as supporters of Hamas chant slogans against the Israeli military action in Gaza, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.   (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

(Newser) – Hamas has executed as many as 18 Palestinians suspected of spying for Israel after airstrikes killed three top commanders in Gaza yesterday, the BBC and the Los Angeles Times report. A Gaza radio station first reported that 11 were executed at an abandoned police station; two of those were women, according to the Guardian. After Hamas promised "the same punishment will be imposed soon on others," men wearing Hamas uniforms reportedly shot seven men outside a Gaza mosque. Analysts say it is believed the Israeli strikes could only have been carried out with "human intelligence," which likely played a role in the executions, the Times notes.

Hamas, meanwhile, said "the current circumstances forced us to take such decisions." All three Hamas commanders—Mohammed Abu Shamala, Raed al-Attar, and Mohammed Barhoum—were killed in Rafah, just days after an Israeli airstrike targeting leader Mohammed Deif killed his wife and young son. Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the Israeli military's "precise execution capabilities" and the Washington Post notes the killings dealt "the most significant blow to the group's military leadership" since the conflict began. A Hamas rep called it "a despicable crime for which Israel will pay dearly." An estimated 2,075 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed in the latest unrest.

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