Palestinian militants execute man accused of collaboration with Israel

Onlookers in West Bank cheer after masked militia members shoot him

July 03, 2004|By Laura King | Laura King,LOS ANGELES TIMES

JERUSALEM - To the cheers of onlookers, Palestinian militants dragged a man accused of collaborating with Israel to a village square in the northern West Bank and gunned him down.

Rafiq Daraghmeh, 45, begged for his life, said witnesses, before being riddled with automatic-weapons fire by masked members of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militia loosely affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

"It was obvious he was very, very frightened, and he pleaded with them to spare him," said Mahmoud Ali, a resident of the West Bank village of Qabatiyah, the scene of the killing.

"But they read out the charges against him, and almost immediately afterward he was shot and killed. Some people then applauded."

The gunmen also accused Daraghmeh of sexually abusing his two daughters, but the accusations could not be verified.

Ali said that after the charges against Daraghmeh were read out, the crowd of several hundred people chanted, "Execute him! Execute him!"

Palestinians said the man, a resident of the nearby village of Tubas, had been abducted from a hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin before the killing, and for an undetermined amount of time had been in the custody of militants who interrogated him.

In Tubas, relatives shunned the slain man even in death, refusing to claim his body.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip are honeycombed with informants. Palestinians who are even vaguely suspected of somehow aiding the Israelis are dealt with harshly. Several dozen have been killed by other Palestinians in the course of the 43-month-old conflict.

Palestinian sources said Daraghmeh was accused of leading Israeli forces to safe houses where Palestinian militants were holed up. Israel launches nearly daily search-and-arrest raids in West Bank towns and cities.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces pressed ahead with an operation aimed at halting weapons smuggling along the seaside border with Egypt, and with securing a sector of the northern Gaza Strip frequently used to stage rocket attacks against Jewish settlements and Israeli towns.

Three Palestinians were reported killed yesterday in Gaza.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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