ROTTERDAM, August 22 -- Security official in Gaza says some of the suspected informers had previously been sentenced by Gaza courts.
Hamas has killed 17 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, a day after Israel killed three of the group's top military commanders in an airstrike on a house in southern Gaza Strip, witnesses and a Hamas website said.
The victims, their heads covered and hands tied, were shot dead by masked gunmen dressed in black in front of a crowd of worshippers outside a mosque after prayers, witnesses and al-Majd, a pro-Hamas website, said. The Gaza security official said the 11 men had previously been sentenced by Gaza courts, reported the Associated Press news agency.
He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the incident with reporters.
Israel's intelligence services rely, in part, on informers to pinpoint the whereabouts of Hamas leaders.
"Israel has a long and successful history of recruiting collaborators and informers both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and they do so through a variety of different means: sometimes it is financial inducements; other times it is blackmail, bullying, threats, promises [and] maybe intimidating family members," said Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, reporting from west Jerusalem.
She said that by publicising the retribution brought down on the 18 people, Hamas was sending a deterrent to other Palestinians. The news came as five Palestinians were killed by an Israeli air strike, the latest since Egyptian-led ceasefire talks collapsed three days ago.
Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official, said on Friday some of the victims were workers at a livestock farm that was hit in the airstrike. The Israeli military said it carried out 20 airstrikes early on Friday, targeting rocket launchers and weapons sites. It said Gaza fighters fired two rockets at Israel.
Friday's fighting came as funerals were held for three senior Hamas commanders killed by Israeli air raids.