RAMALLAH, January 27 (JMCC) - Ashraf Aweidah was one of several men killed by armed assailants at a Gaza intersection late last year before his trial on charges of spying for Israel. His family, reports al-Monitor
, maintains his innocence and human rights groups decry punishment without a proper trial.
Muhammad Aweidah, 18 years old, returns from his work at the Firas Market in Gaza City, where he slaughters and sells chickens. Ashamed, he covers his face as he hears those around him whispering about his late father, Ashraf Abdel Samia Aweidah. His mother, Khatam, as is her custom, goes to check in on him and asks him, What’s the matter? Why all of this grief?”
Khatam’s husband, Ashraf Aweidah, was killed by armed groups in Gaza on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, during the most recent shelling of the Gaza Strip. His body was tossed into one of the streets of Gaza City with a paper attached to him that labeled him an Israeli informant and the reason behind the assassination of dozens of Palestinian leaders.
The certainty with which Khatam reassures her son is matched by that of a source from the Interior Ministry in the Gaza government, who wished to remain anonymous, when he says that Aweidah was one of Israel’s most effective informants detained in Palestine since the 1980s. He alleges that Aweidah caused the deaths of 11 Palestinian leaders, including five from Hamas. He said that Aweidah had believed up until the last moments of the shelling campaign that there was an exchange agreement and that Israel would take him and save him.
From her family’s home in the Zeitoun neighborhood, Aweidah’s wife Khatam told Al-Monitor that her husband was killed unjustly and the problem arose because of the Jeep Magnum that he had bought a month before his arrest. Investigators explained to her sons that this car was suspicious and had been under surveillance for a long time. She added, The issue is the car and its owner, not its new owner, my husband.
Shahwan, the spokesman for the interior ministry who met with Al-Monitor in his office, said it was a painful situation, especially having to inform the families. He said that prisoners accused of collaboration had been apprehended previously and were being readied for transfer away from al-Ansar Prison to another location when armed men ambushed them en route, kidnapping the accused persons and executing them. The media then dispersed images of them as they dismembered the bodies in the streets. The spokesman stressed that these actions are outside the law and entirely unacceptable. He said that some of those responsible are currently detained in prison and that a high-level investigative committee is reviewing the incident and will announce the results of their investigations soon. He added that all of the executed prisoners had previously been sentenced to death by a Palestinian court in Gaza.
Ibrahim Haddad, Aweidah’s attorney, told Al-Monitor that Aweidah had not been sentenced to death, but rather he was set to go to trial in a matter of days. Israeli threats to invade Gaza prompted the evacuation of security headquarters, which in turn prevented the trial from proceeding.