GAZA CITY - Agence France-Presse
The Hamas government in Gaza executed three men convicted of murder on Tuesday, the interior ministry said.
"Based on religious law and our religion and what is stipulated in Palestinian law... three men convicted of intentional murder were executed on Tuesday morning in accordance with a court order sentencing them to death by hanging after their conviction," the Hamas interior ministry said in a statement.
It identified the executed men only by their initials and said it had offered the families of the victims the opportunity to seek "blood money" -- a compensation payment from the convicted.
"But the families of the victims demanded the punishment be carried out," the statement said.
In April, the Hamas government hanged three other Palestinians, one convicted of "collaboration" and two others convicted of murder.
The executions, which take place without the presence of reporters, have been criticised domestically and internationally.
Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are all punishable by death.
All execution orders must be approved by the Palestinian president before they can be carried out, but Hamas no longer recognises the legitimacy of Mahmud Abbas, whose four-year term ended in 2009.
In Ramallah, the West Bank government of prime minister Salam Fayyad denounced the executions, saying "the verdict was issued by illegitimate courts... in contravention of the existing laws." "Any execution of a death penalty requires the approval of the state's president. This is in addition to the fact that such a measure is a dangerous violation of human rights," his cabinet said after its weekly meeting.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said the executions brought the number of death sentences carried out in Gaza this year to six, saying in a statement that all death sentences required ratification by the Palestinian president and reiterating its opposition to the death penalty.
In April, European Union
officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned Hamas for carrying out executions and urged the Islamist movement to abolish the death penalty.