Hamas’ brutal execution of a number of men who it claimed were Israeli collaborators led to a lot of headlines complete with photos of bodies being dragged around behind motorcycles. But in the Muslim world, it’s important to understand context, not just content, and everyone lies all the time.
Collaborators are often executed in the West Bank and Gaza, however these people are rarely agents of Israel. Israeli intelligence is pretty good and not that easy to penetrate. Israel doesn’t rely as much on local informants anymore and more on intercepted communications.
So who are the collaborators that are executed?
Usually they are
1. Owners of land or businesses that Hamas or Fatah militia heads are looking to seize
2. Political or family rivals being put down
Collaboration is a meaningless accusation. Hamas and Fatah accuse each other of collaboration a few times a year. And in this case, it appears that Hamas was using the war as a pretext to put down some of its Islamist rivals.
His family, neighbours and friends believe the notion that he spied for Israel is absurd – and there is much that supports their view, not least that as a prisoner Badawi was under armed guard during last week’s conflict.
Badawi was a member of the Islamist group Jaljalat – Thunder – which takes its inspiration from Al Qaeda and is more hardline than Hamas.
He had been in prison since 2009 when he was arrested on terrorism charges. It was alleged he was one of several fighters planning to launch attacks on Hamas.
Hamas is not ideologically opposed to Al Qaeda, not so much as its apologists would have you think, but these are basic political rivalries. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Qaeda is the Muslim Brotherhood without the political angle or any willingness to do mitigate a Salafist program in the least. Both have the same agenda, but different tactics, and Al Qaeda appeals to a different kind of crowd.
On the ground floor in Gaza, it’s gangland politics. It’s about militias controlling territories and then calling themselves a government.
Badawi belonged to a rival militia. And his Islamic credentials were better than Hamas’. Calling him a collaborator and killing him was Hamas’ way of dealing with a threat.
But don’t get too wrapped up in the religious or political aspects of it. Islamism is just another vehicle for tribal power and family honor.
The dead man’s family insists his execution had nothing to do with espionage but was rooted instead in political and tribal rivalry. ‘His enemies used the war as an excuse to kill him,’ said his widow, who alleges the man who arrested her husband had once been involved in a dispute with him.
This is also a typical aspect of local politics. In the end it all comes down to family and business. Not honor or even Islam.