The third stage of the local authority elections in the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) is taking place on Thursday in 82 communities in the West Bank. Some 128,840 voters will elect 814 members of local authorities.
“This is an important stage, especially after the Israeli ongoing operations in some of the West Bank electoral districts, which attempted at hampering the election process, and also the large-scale waves of arrests which included many candidates,” said Chairman of the High Committee for Local Elections, Jamal A-Shoubaky.
The two major movements running for election are Fatah and Hamas. For the latter, the 2005 local elections are the first time it has participated in the democratic process. Hamas has decided to run for elections in 56 local authorities in the third stage. In 22 other communities the Fatah party has already won, for lack of competition.
Last weekend and at the beginning of the week, Israel launched a massive raid on Islamic Jihad and Hamas operatives, mainly from the political wing. The raid followed the launch of 40 rockets from Gaza into Israel.
Among those arrested were at least 14 Hamas candidates and 15 of the movement’s campaign managers. Also arrested were some the West Bank’s top Hamas political leaders, including Sheikh Hasan Yousuf and Dr. Muhammad Ghazal.