(Reuters) - Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza executed 18 Palestinians 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 shot dead 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.
In the public execution, militants wearing masks and dressed in black gunned down the suspects, whose faces were covered and hands bound, as worshippers emerged from the Omari mosque on Palestine Square, one of Gaza's busiest districts.
"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,"