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Hamas Executes Its Own Commander; Family Blames “Personal Differences” Between Leaders

The family of a Hamas commander who was executed by members of his own group has said that his death was “treachery” and the result of “personal differences” within the Iran-backed terror organization.

Relatives of Mahmud Eshtawi, the dead commander, wrote an open letter to Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in the Palestinian newspaper al-Quds, accusing “influential figures within Hamas and the [Izz al-Din] al-Qassam Brigades of being behind their son’s death, due to personal differences,” the Times of Israel reported Monday. Al-Quds also reported that Eshtawi’s mother sent a video to Meshaal and Hamas commander Mohammed Deif pleading for her son’s life.

Hamas announced Eshtawi’s execution on Sunday after he had been in custody for a year. The family said that it had pleaded with Hamas officials for his release, and claimed that Hamas officials made repeated “empty promises” for his release, even indicating shortly before the execution that the matter would soon be resolved. They received a letter from Eshtawi saying that he had been tortured to confess to acts that he didn’t commit.

In the letter pleading for Eshtawi’s life, the family wrote that he had played an important role in building terror tunnels into Israel as part of the Nahal Oz attack, which took place during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. In that attack, Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel and killed five Israeli soldiers.

Websites affiliated with the Fatah party, which is headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, reportedly accused Eshtawi of revealing the whereabouts of Deif, who was in hiding. This led to an Israeli attack on his house during Protective Edge, in which Deif was seriously injured.

News of the execution comes amid reports that Fatah and Hamas are negotiating a reconciliation agreement in Qatar. The two factions split in 2006 after legislative elections gave Hamas control of the Palestinian legislature. Hamas violently expelled Fatah from the Gaza Strip and took political control of the territory the following year. Repeated efforts to come together and create a single functioning government have repeatedly failed. A Palestinian unity government that was announced in June 2014 remained divided and never functioned as a government.

[Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90 ]