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Six Palestinians sentenced to death in Gaza Strip over spying for Israel

Another eight Palestinians were sentenced to years of hard labour after being accused of communicating with Israel
At least 97 people have been sentenced to death in Gaza since 2007, according to B'Tselem (AFP)

A military court in the Gaza Strip has sentenced six Palestinians to death over charges of spying for Israel, Palestinian media reported on Monday.

Five of the Palestinians were sentenced to death by hanging, including a 55-year-old female Palestinian citizen of Israel sentenced in absentia, while the sixth was sentenced to death by firing squad, the Gaza Ministry of Interior said.

Another eight Palestinians were also convicted of spying for Israel in the besieged Palestinian enclave, which has been de facto led by the Hamas movement since 2007, and received sentences ranging from six to 15 years of hard labour, according to Palestine News Network (PNN).

The 14 Palestinians were accused of having communicated with Israeli intelligence about members and bases of armed groups in the Gaza Strip, although PNN noted that many of those indicted did not initially know they were sharing such information with Israeli authorities.

The sentences were unrelated to a deadly botched Israeli undercover raid into the Gaza Strip last month that led to the deaths of seven Palestinians and one Israeli soldier, and prompted the biggest flareups in violence between Gaza and Israel since the 2014 war.

Israel has long been accused of pressuring sick Palestinians or their relatives into collaborating in exchange for a permit to leave Gaza for treatment, as well as blackmailing closeted LGBTQ Palestinians into spying on their neighbours.

The death penalties come as Hamas launched on Monday the beginning of activities commemorating the 31st anniversary of its founding.

Under Palestinian Authority (PA) law, the death penalty can be applied against people convicted of collaboration with the enemy - usually meaning Israel - treason and premeditated murder.

While the law requires that the PA president - currently Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank - ratify all death sentences before they be carried out, according to human rights organisation B’Tselem, at least 97 people have been sentenced to death and 33 have been executed in the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Hamas wrested control of the small enclave from the Fatah-led PA in 2007 after the latter contested Hamas' victory in parliamentary elections a year earlier.

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