|Hamas executes 18 suspected of spying for Israel||
Hamas resistance fighters in Gaza executed 18 spies accused of collaborating with Israel on Friday, a day after Israel tracked down and killed three top Hamas commanders, the highest-ranking militants to be killed in the six-week war.
Seven people were executed in front of worshippers outside a mosque in one of Gaza's main squares, witnesses said, the first public executions in the Palestinian enclave since the 1990s. A further 11 were killed at an abandoned police station near Gaza City, Hamas security officials said, according to Reuters.
"The resistance has begun an operation called 'strangling the necks', targeting collaborators who aid the (Israeli) occupation, kill our people and destroy houses," a pro-Hamas website said.
A so-called conviction letter signed by the "Palestinian Resistance" was posted on a wall near to where the bodies of alleged collaborators lay. The notice read:
"They provided the enemy with information about the whereabouts of fighters, tunnels of resistance, bombs, houses of fighters and places of rockets, and the occupation bombarded these areas killing a number of fighters... Therefore, the ruling of revolutionary justice was handed upon him,"
The executions followed the killing by Israel of three of Hamas's most senior military commanders, who were hit in an air strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah on Thursday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has praised cooperation between Israel's military and its internal security service, Shin Bet, for the attack, which demonstrated a high level of knowledge about the whereabouts of Hamas's leaders.
Since a 10-day ceasefire collapsed on Tuesday, Israel has focused its attacks on the military leadership of Hamas.
Hamas identified those killed on Thursday as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, saying they had been at the forefront of the fight against Israel for two decades.
Israel said two of them had been instrumental in the 2006 kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, who was held in Gaza for five years before being freed in a prisoner exchange, as well as other deadly attacks.
Attacks on Gaza continue
Israel continued its U.S.-backed terror campaign against Gaza Friday, killing four Palestinians including two in Deir al-Balah and two in Nusseirat, health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said.
The strike in Nusseirat hit a house, killing two men identified as Mahmoud Nasser Kashlan, 24, and Hamid Yassin Abu Hamad, 22, Qudra wrote on Twitter, according to AFP.
The identities of those killed in Deir al-Balah, where Israel bombed open farmland, were not immediately clear.
Israel's shelling equivalent to six nuclear bombs
Israel has bombed the Gaza Strip with 20,000 tons of explosives, equivalent to six nuclear bombs, the Palestinian interior ministry said on Thursday.
In a statement quoted by Anadolu news agency, the ministry accused the Israeli army of using internationally banned weapons and highly explosive missiles during its current offensive on Gaza, which has so far led to the death of more than 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including women and children.
Attacks by Israeli artillery and air strikes have devastated many areas of Gaza, a densely populated enclave that is home to 1.8 million people. The United Nations says at least 425,000 people have been displaced by the fighting.
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