BEIRUT

Middle East

Gaza conflict unveils two faces of Hamas

Palestinian Hamas policemen inspect damages at the site of an Israeli air raid in Gaza City on November 17, 2012. AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI

GAZA CITY: A car drags the body of an executed "collaborator" through Gaza City, streets away from where a team of foreign dignitaries come to show solidarity with Gazans under Israeli fire.

The scene served to highlight the two faces of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, faced with Western diplomatic isolation despite its 2006 election triumph, has played up the successive high-level foreign visits since the November 14 launch of Israel's deadly onslaught on the Palestinian territory.

To the sound of celebratory honking of car horns, the bare-footed body of the young man was strung to a back bumper and paraded in a convoy led by motorbikes through the Nasser district of Gaza City, an AFP journalist said.

Gunmen executed six alleged collaborators with Israel on Tuesday, witnesses said, adding that notices were pinned to their bodies saying they had been killed by Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

"Gunmen in a minibus pulled up in the neighbourhood, pushed six men out and shot them without leaving the vehicle," one of the witnesses said.

The witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the message pinned to the bodies read: "Al-Qassam Brigades announces the execution of the traitors."

The message said the men were killed "for their participation in providing information about the capabilities of the resistance and their factions and giving the enemy information about the movement of the fighters."

The men, the message added, "contributed to the martyrdom of many fighters by reporting their position." One of them was dragged through the streets behind a motorbike, as seen in a photograph distributed by AFP.

The scene was played out a few streets from the Dallu family home where, after the roads had been washed of blood, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya hosted an Arab League delegation led by secretary general Nabil al-Arabi.

"Here's the legitimate Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya," a Hamas spokesman announced on a loudspeaker, listing the guests, among them Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his Egyptian and Saudi counterparts.

"This is the prime minister rejected by Israel and the United States," he declared, as the foreign dignitaries made their way through the dense crowd under the watchful eyes of their bodyguards.

They struggled to reach friends of the family, at least eight of whose members were killed when an Israeli air strike destroyed their home last Sunday, seated next to the ruins to pay condolences.

The visitors then made their way to Gaza City's main Al-Shifa hospital, where scenes of chaos broke out on their arrival and the bodies of the six "collaborators" were kept out of sight in the morgue.

 

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