Report: Hamas Execution of Officer Accused of Spying for Israel Sparks Defections From Terror Organization’s Military Wing
The execution of a former Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades officer has led to the defection of “several members” of Hamas’ military wing, the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Monday.
The defectors have reportedly formed their own group, “al-Qassamiyoun al-Ahrar,” and are demanding that an independent investigative committee look into the execution of Mahmud Eshtawi, which was carried out in the Gaza Strip last week, according to the report.
The new group also released a statement condemning the verdict that apparently led to Eshtawi’s execution, calling his death “a horrendous murder and a sign of great oppression,” according to Asharq al-Awsat.
The defections were the latest development in the controversy stemming from Eshtawi’s death, after his family called the execution “treachery,” and declared it was prompted by “personal” reasons, rather than Hamas’ claims that Eshtawi was spying for Israel.
Hamas announced Eshtawi’s execution and carried it out publicly after he had been held in custody for about a year. The Palestinian chapter of Human Rights Watch condemned the execution and called it “another extrajudicial killing by forces linked to Hamas,” according to the Egyptian Al Ahram newspaper.