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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 11:42 GMT
Death of Palestinian 'collaborator'
Crowd gatherd to witness the execution of Allam Beni Odeh
A crowd gathered in Nablus for the execution
The body of a Palestinian man suspected of collaborating with Israel has been found on a main road outside the village of Ajja, near Nablus, in the West Bank.

When someone is assisting the Israelis with information that helps them kill one of our leaders, it is difficult to criticize us for using military courts

Palestinian official Faisal Husseini
According to reports, the dead man was suspected of collaborating during the first Palestinian uprising of 1988-1993. He had fled to Israel but returned to Ajja in 1994.

In recent days, there has been a spate of killings of alleged collaborators.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has offered an amnesty to people who have collaborated with Israel in return for a full confession.

But the militant Islamic group Hamas has threatened to take its own measures against alleged collaborators.

Recent executions

On Monday, one suspected collaborator was found dead on his doorstep in the West Bank village of Burqin.

Two Palestinians were formally executed separately in Nablus and Gaza City on Saturday by the PA after being found guilty of helping Israel to assassinate Palestinian activists.

The death sentences were carried out despite objections by Palestinian human rights activists, who said the accused were tried in a matter of hours, without lawyers, and with no right of appeal.

Two other Palestinians were sentenced to death for collaborating, while two received life sentences from a security court in Bethlehem.

Execution 'justified'

Faisal Husseini, the most senior Palestinian official in Jerusalem, said on Monday that the Palestinian security courts were right to pass death sentences on collaborators.

"When someone is assisting the Israelis with information that helps them kill one of our leaders without even giving him one minute to defend himself, it is difficult to criticise us for using military courts," Mr Husseini said.

But Mr Husseini also warned Palestinians not to take the law into their own hands.

Suspected collaborator Allam Beni Odeh
Allam Beni Odeh is led by Palestinian policemen to his execution
"There is only one body that is responsible for taking this critical decision and carrying it out. Only one body," Mr Husseini stressed.

"Any attempt by an individual or group to do this will bring charges on to them."

But Hamas has announced that it intends to take such action.

"The Izz el-Din al-Qassam will not remain handcuffed and silent in the face of continued ugly crimes by the traitors," said a statement issued in the name of the group's military wing.

"It will strike with an iron fist against all those involved in collaboration with the Zionist enemy."

Amnesty offer

The PA has given collaborators 45 days to give themselves up and make a full disclosure of their links with Israel. The amnesty period runs from 13 January.

"We will have no problem pardoning whoever comes and makes a full confession, expressing repentance, and reveals all the information he knows honestly and accurately," Justice Minister Freih Abu Meddein said.

He also dismissed a European Union statement expressing "deep regret" at Saturday's execution of two Palestinians.

He said the EU should instead condemn what he called Israel's killing of innocent Palestinians.

According to the justice minister, the PA has sentenced 32 to death since its creation in 1994. Five of these sentences have been carried out the others have been commuted to life imprisonment.

Human rights groups have denounced the PA's security courts, which they say deny basic legal rights.

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13 Jan 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Palestinian divisions
13 Jan 01 | Middle East
Palestinians execute informers
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