Amnesty International has called on Gaza Strip rulers Hamas to halt prisoner executions planned for after the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which is celebrated until Sunday.
"The Hamas authorities in Gaza must halt several executions they say they plan to carry out after this week's Muslim religious festival of Eid al-Fitr," the London-based rights watchdog said in a statement on Thursday.
"We acknowledge the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences, but the death penalty is cruel and inhuman," said Philip Luther, Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director.
"There is no evidence [execution] deters crime more effectively than other punishments," he added.
Those sentenced to death include a 27-year-old known as "HMA", who Amnesty says confessed under torture to the rape and murder of a six-year-old boy when HMA himself was under 18.
Another, 23-year-old, "FA", was sentenced in March for "collaboration" with Israel, Amnesty said.
There has been no specific date given for the executions.
‘We can’t tolerate violations’
The Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, on August 3 said: "We shall not desist in preserving our internal security.
"We must not tolerate anyone who would violate internal security," he was quoted by the Hamas-affiliated Felesteen website as saying.
Haniya said he "respected" rights groups that campaigned against capital punishment, but stressed: "We also respect our own blood, and our laws."
Under Palestinian law, collaboration with Israel, murder and drug trafficking are all punishable by death.