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Maariv: Israel prepares for Hamas victory in local elections

Israel is preparing for a "big victory" by Hamas in the local elections, referring to it as the "October surprise", Israel's Maariv newspaper wrote.

The paper's security expert Yossi Melman noted that Hamas' announcement that it will take part in the elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip means that it is "confident" that it will achieve a "big victory" based on its staff on the ground.

He said he expected that Hamas may win because of the "weakness" of the Palestinian Authority (PA), dominated by Fatah, noting that Fatah "has been busy in find a successor for [Palestinian President and Fatah Head Mahmoud] Abbas and the fear of internal clashes over this issue."

The fact that it is distracted is giving Hamas a "golden opportunity".

Melman said Fatah is afraid that Hamas will achieve a "big historic victory", adding this is why many Fatah leaders advised Abbas to postpone the elections.

Israeli news website Walla, which has close relations with Israeli intelligence services, reported that Israel is attempting to interfere in the Palestinian elections.

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