BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi on Sunday denounced Hamas’ decision to sentence a 26-year-old Palestinian woman to death for killing her husband who repeatedly beat her, saying that Hamas carrying out executions without the approval of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas was illegal.
“The death penalty is a blatant violation of the right to life, and it should be abolished in Palestine. We call on Hamas to cease and desist from enforcing such a punishment and to abide by Palestine's obligations in accordance with all the [international] conventions and agreements,” Ashrawi said.
Anzeh was found dead in the southern Gaza Strip on Jan. 30.
Under Palestinian law, all death sentences must be ratified by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out. However, since 2010 the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza has carried out executions periodically without receiving approval from Abbas.
“It is imperative that the rights and fundamental freedoms of women are safeguarded,” Ashrawi added. “ The killing of Nahia’s husband occurred due to the absence of law which is intended to provide safety and protection for all women.”
Ashrawi urged the Hamas government to protect all women in the besieged Gaza Strip, particularly those who have been subjected to violence and abuse.
In May, Gaza-based legislators decided that death sentences would be “obligatory after all possible appeals against them are completed.”
On May 17, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced that 13 Palestinians had been sentenced to death by Gaza courts and would be executed as soon as possible.
Following approval of the executions, reportedly to be held in public, human rights group Amnesty International, EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and the UN all admonished the practice of the death penalty and urged the the legislators to reverse the decision.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov said of the seemingly hasty executions: “Palestine is one and Gaza and the West Bank are its two integral parts. I urge Hamas not to carry out these executions and I call on President Abbas to establish a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty.”
Hamas officials maintain that due to the indefinite postponement of presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territory, and the failure of the Palestinian Authority to assume most of its functions in the besieged coastal enclave, authority for ratifying death sentences lies with the legislative council in Gaza.