An international rights watchdog says the militant group Hamas committed war crimes by kidnapping, torturing, and killing Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during last year's conflict with Israel.
Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday that some 23 Palestinians were shot and killed and dozens more arrested and tortured by Hamas, the controlling force in Gaza, during the armed conflict. The report says the Palestinians targeted were either political rivals of Hamas or people accused of cooperating with Israel.
The report highlights one incident reported to have taken place on August 22, in which six men were publicly executed by Hamas forces outside a mosque in front of hundreds of spectators, including children.
The report says Hamas used the war to settle scores "ruthlessly," in actions designed to exact revenge and spread fear through the Gaza Strip. The report said 16 of the people executed were in custody of Hamas before the armed conflict even broke out.
Amnesty also accused Hamas of using torture to extract "confessions" from its detainees.
Amnesty said torture and cruel treatment of detainees in an armed conflict is a war crime, as are extrajudicial executions. It called on the de facto administration in Gaza to send a message to law enforcement officials that detainees must be treated humanely at all times.
A Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, told the Associated Press that Hamas was investigating the incidents detailed in the report.