GAZA, May 4 (Reuters) - Gaza’s Islamist-run government executed a man convicted of collaborating with Israel on Wednesday, the Hamas interior ministry said, openly defying the Palestinian president just hours ahead of a reconciliation move.
The man was executed by firing squad after being sentenced to death last month for helping “the Israeli occupation”, the ministry said, referring to him only by his initials A.S..
The execution came on the same day that the leaders of Hamas ratified a deal with western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to end a Palestinian schism that has left Hamas in sole control of the Gaza Strip.
Israel withdrew from the enclave in 2005 but maintains a blockade against Hamas, which refuses to recognise the Jewish state or renounce violence.
Under Palestinian law, executions should be carried out only with presidential approval, but Hamas ignored this.
It was not clear if the execution had been rushed through ahead of the unity ceremony in Egypt or whether Hamas would in future seek Abbas’s approval to apply the death penalty.
Hamas executed five Palestinians last year, including two men also convicted of collaborating with Israel.
A Palestinian human rights group named the executed man as Abdel-Karim Shrair, 37, and said he had been a member of the local police force when it was dominated by Abbas’s Fatah group.
“The Independent Commission for Human Rights condemns the execution by the Palestinian government in Gaza of the death penalty against a citizen this morning,” the group said.
“It reaffirms that ratification of death penalties is an exclusive right of the president of the Palestinian Authority.”
Hamas defeated Fatah in a brief civil war in 2007, establishing its own security force in the coastal enclave and leaving Abbas’s group in control of just the West Bank, still under Israeli occupation.
Abbas has refrained from approving death sentences against Palestinians convicted of capital offences in the West Bank. (Reporting by Nidal Al-Mughrabi; Editing by Crispian Balmer)