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Hamas won’t relent on executions

Hani Abu Aliyan faces death by hanging.

Hani Abu Aliyan faces death by hanging.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Gaza’s Hamas government is sticking to plans to carry out more executions and to do so in public for the first time, despite new protests by human rights groups Tuesday.

Among those facing death by hanging in coming days is Hani Abu Aliyan, 28, convicted of two killings, including sexually assaulting and bludgeoning to death a boy when he himself was only 14. His lawyer alleged that Abu Aliyan confessed to that killing under torture.

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The international group Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged all upcoming executions be halted, saying that Gaza’s justice system is badly tainted, including by forced confessions, and that executing a child offender is ‘‘especially atrocious.’’

A Gaza rights group, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said inviting spectators to executions adds cruelty to an already inhumane punishment.

In all, Hamas authorities have executed 16 prisoners since 2010, most convicted of killings or spying for Israel, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch. Sixteen more await execution, including Abu Aliyan and another prisoner who are first in line because they have exhausted all appeals.

Abu Aliyan’s father, Mohammed, a farmer from the southern town of Khan Younis, pleaded for his son’s life, saying he has shown remorse, has turned to religion, and should get a chance to see his own 5-year-old son grow up.

‘‘They can keep him in jail forever,’’ the elder Abu Aliyan said Tuesday. ‘‘At least let his son know his father.’’

Executions have aroused little public opposition in Gaza, where tribal customs and Islamic religious law, or Sharia, call for putting to death convicted killers.

As an Islamic militant group bound by Sharia, Hamas would have ideological difficulties halting executions, said Ahmed Ali, a sociologist at Gaza’s Al Quds
University.

Carrying out executions also prevents revenge killings by angry relatives that can quickly spiral into long-running blood feuds, he said.

The Hamas-run justice system and past executions have repeatedly been criticized by human rights groups.

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