Israel arrests Hamas elections official for ‘incitement’

Andrew Silow-Carroll

(JTA) — Israeli security arrested a top West Bank Hamas official on the eve of Palestinian municipal elections, saying he was being detained on suspicion of “incitement.”

Hussein Abu Kweik was arrested overnight Tuesday at his home in the el-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, according to The Times of Israel. Abu Kweik is the only Hamas representative to the Palestinian Authority commission overseeing the elections and its main campaign voice in the West Bank.

The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service arrested Abu Kweik “for his involvement in security-related activities that presented a threat to security in the area,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said Wednesday, however, that the arrest of Abu Kweik and other activists was an attempt by Israel to meddle in the Oct. 8 elections — the first general Palestinian vote since 2006. The elections are seen as a referendum on the two dominant Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah.

Hamas previously accused P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party of arresting Hamas activists in a bid to influence the elections.

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