Hamas releases 45 prisoners in Gaza Strip ahead of elections

The Islamic Hamas movement said on Thursday it has released 45 prisoners from its jails in the Gaza Strip ahead of the general elections.

The Hamas-run interior ministry said the release of the prisoners is “a goodwill gesture aimed to prepare a positive atmosphere for holding the general elections and ending 14 years of internal Palestinian division.”

In a statement, Hamas said the prisoners were arrested “for reasons that had caused harms to the local factions and their armed wings.”

It said there are no prisoners “arrested for their political views and opinion” in the Gaza Strip.

On Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye called on Hamas to release political prisoners imprisoned in its jails in the Gaza Strip, saying that Hamas has to “release 80 political prisoners from its jails in the Gaza Strip.”

Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas enacted a decree to consolidate public freedoms in the Palestinian territories ahead of the general elections.

Under the decree, Palestine will establish an atmosphere of public freedoms in all its territories, allowing people to “have the freedom to practice political and national action, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and relevant legislation.”

The decree was issued based on the understandings reached among 14 Palestinian factions during their recent meetings in Cairo earlier this month.

Last month, Abbas announced that the 2021 general election will include legislative elections being held on May 22, presidential elections on July 31, and the Palestinian National Council elections on Aug. 31.

The last Palestinian presidential elections were held in March 2005, and the legislative elections in January 2006.