Hooded killers shooting hooded prisoners is a shocking scene even in a war zone.
It was Civil War Gen. William Sherman who said, "War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."
Even in that context, it was sobering to see news reports last week about the summary executions by Hamas of 18 suspected spies.
The pictures of the hooded men awaiting their fate while mobs bayed for their blood didn't look like anything that happens in a civilized country.
The mass execution took place a day after Israel succeeded in killing three top Hamas commanders. The individuals who were executed apparently were judged, in the eyes of their accusers, to be complicit in Israel's successful attack on the Hamas leadership.
Even if they were not, news reports indicated, the mass executions were intended to send a warning to Gaza residents about the danger of assisting Israel.
One wonders if the accused were afforded anything resembling a fair trial?
Was there anyone appointed to represent their interests, assert their innocence or challenge the evidence against them? What kind of evidence was presented as a prelude to the immediate executions of the guilty parties? The answers to those questions seem obvious.
It may be a waste of time to expect such legal niceties from a military organization engaged in a ruthless war against Israel. But when many countries throughout the world question Israel's conduct of its military activities, it seems fair to do the same to one of Israel's main opponents.