Badawi was a member of the Islamist group Jaljalat – Thunder – which takes its inspiration from Al Qaeda and is more hardline than Hamas’
The family has received many people to express their condolences. If Ribhi was a traitor, they would have stayed away.
Tearful and scared, a three-year-old girl knows little of what lies behind the tension and turmoil gripping her homeland. She merely holds tight a picture of her father the way she will want to remember him.
The youngster will certainly do best to forget the images that so shocked the world last week. For even in a land synonymous with violence, the way her father died seemed unusually inhumane.
Publicly executed minutes earlier as an alleged ‘spy for Israel’, his body was dragged through Gaza City by men on motorcycles, waving pistols triumphantly in the air.
Substitute horses for bikes, noted one witness, and it could almost have been a scene from the Crusades.
Along with five others, the ‘collaborator’ was killed on Tuesday for allegedly providing intelligence to enable Israel to pinpoint attack targets. He was shot twice and then ‘finished off’ with a blow from a heavy rock.
Amid dizzying confusion at the height of the eight-day conflict, there were sketchy reports that the traitors were caught ‘red-handed’ with ‘high-tech filming equipment’.
Beyond this, nothing else was known: not their identities nor the precise nature of any evidence against them.
The Mail on Sunday can today reveal that the dead man in the picture is 37-year-old father-of-five Ribhi Badawi, a Palestinian prisoner in Gaza.
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.
Badawi’s family claim that while in prison, he was tortured until he confessed to being a traitor.
‘Ribhi was a proud Palestinian. He loved his country with a rare passion and he was more opposed to Israeli occupation than Hamas is,’ said his widow Kholoud.
‘To see the body of my dear husband dragged through the streets like an animal is truly terrible. The men who did this were wild.’
Sitting in her cramped home with three-year-old daughter Baraa (whose name means Innocence), Kholoud then reveals another irony – that her husband was wanted by an Israeli military court for conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism following a foiled bombing mission.
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.
Badawi told his family he was tortured by Hamas in the months after his arrest. For days on end, he said, he was suspended upside down and beaten. ‘They also put a machine gun in his mouth and threatened to shoot unless he signed a blank piece of paper,’ said his widow.
‘He is a tough man and he resisted but after 55 days he succumbed and signed. He was later charged with espionage and terrorism. He was sentenced to death and had been in jail ever since.’
Badawi wrote a 20-page account detailing the countless inconsistencies in the case against him. ‘I have been put under psychological and physical torture and forced to sign statements,’ he said.
Ribhi Badawi’s house stands little more than a mile from where he was killed in a district just north of the city center. People living nearby spoke of him as a local hero.
One shopkeeper said: ‘The family has received many people since his death. They came to express their condolences. If Ribhi was truly suspected of being a traitor, they would have stayed away.’
Hamas said it could not comment on the family’s claims but reiterated remarks made by its deputy leader that the killings were ‘unlawful’.
View original Mail Online publication at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2238136/Terrified-girl-clutches-picture-father-publicly-executed-dragged-streets-Gaza-motorbike-lynch-mob.html