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Israel warns Hamas in West Bank not to participate in elections

Hamas sets up elections committee in Gaza, 16 December 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Hamas sets up elections committee in Gaza, 16 December 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Israeli intelligence services have started to warn Hamas officials in the occupied West Bank not to participate in the upcoming Palestinian elections, sources within the movement revealed on Wednesday.

According to the sources, the Israelis first summoned senior Hamas official Sheikh Omar Al-Barghouti to speak with intelligence officers at Ofer Detention Centre. While he was there, Al-Barghouti, who lives in the Ramallah neighbourhood of Coper, was "asked" not to take part in the presidential, legislative and National Council elections. The Hamas leader was only released from prison a few weeks ago.

Several other Hamas officials and senior members have also been "asked" the same thing by the Israelis. The sources said that some of were asked on the telephone and others were also summoned to detention centres or military bases to be interrogated on this issue.

Al-Barghouti has spent a total of 30 years in Israeli prisons. He is the brother of Nael Al-Barghouti, who has been held by Israel for more than 40 years.

READ: What are Palestinian voters asking for? 

In 2018, the Israeli occupation forces arrested Al-Barghouti and his wife. During the same raid they not only killed his son but also demolished his house.

Previous warnings from Israeli intelligence to Hamas have included telling officials not to get involved in reconciliation talks with Fatah.

In 2006, Hamas won the parliamentary and municipal elections in the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel, Fatah, Arab states and the West, including the US, refused to accept the victory before going on to help Fatah oust Hamas in the West Bank and impose a strict siege on Gaza. They have also overlooked the fact that the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas's presidency ended in 2009, since when he has refused to call an election, until now, and the West has continued to support him.

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