A boy wearing an Al-Qassam Brigades headband is carried by his father during a Hamas rally in Gaza City
A boy wearing a headband of the Al Qassam Brigades is carried by his father during a rally for Hamas in Gaza City Reuters

Hamas has been criticised by a human rights organisation after it executed one of its own fighters for violating 'rules and ethics'.

The group, which runs the Gaza strip, posted on one of its social media accounts that its military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, had executed its member Mahmoud Eshtaiwi.

The brigade said on Twitter that it had carried out the execution following a trial in a military court with a Sharia judiciary and that Eshtaiwi had been sentenced to death for 'behavioural and ethical excesses'.

Although Hamas did not go into further detail about the type of crime Eshtaiwi was accused of, it is rumoured that he was suspected of being an Israeli spy.

Eshtaiwi, described by Al Qassam Brigades as 'a member of the corps' was sentenced to death at 4pm on 7 February.

It is reportedly the first time that Hamas has sentenced one of its own members to death following a military trial, and was criticised by Human Rights Watch's Israel/Palestine director Sari Bashi, who said it was "another extra-judicial killing by forces linked to Hamas", Israel National News reported.

She told the paper: "If Hamas really cares about defending the rights of Palestinian people, it will act to punish and prevent the killing of any Palestinian in rogue procedures outside the semblance of law and justice."

More than 160 people have been sentenced to death in the Gaza Strip since 2007, with 80 of the executions carried out so far, but the execution of a member of Al Qassam for spying is highly unusual, and the group's reluctance to comment on the case could suggest additional motives at play.