Top Hamas terrorist disqualified from Palestinian elections

The Palestinian Central Election Commission has rejected the candidacy of a high-ranking Hamas terrorist who is serving 46 consecutive life sentences and another 30 years in Israeli prison for leading three mass casualty attacks in Israel.

The commission ruled that Hassan Salameh, a former commander of Hamas’ military wing Izaddin al-Qassam, will not be able to run in the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for May 22, because his name does not appear on the final voter registry of the commission.

The commission defended its decision, arguing that it was an executive body in charge of implementing the electoral law.

The CEC noted that it has accepted the candidature of many Palestinian prisoners who met the conditions of the commission, including registration. The commission said it approved the candidacy of 10 other prisoners whose names appeared on the Hamas list.

Salameh, who was born in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, was arrested by the IDF in 1996 in the West Bank city of Hebron.

It was ranked 13th on the Hamas electoral list that was recently submitted to the CEC. The list is called “Jerusalem is our destiny.”

On Monday, a Palestinian electoral court rejected a Hamas appeal against the decision to remove Salameh from the electoral list.

In response, Hamas expressed “great regret” over the decision to reject Salameh’s candidacy, noting that he had been arrested by the IDF many years ago.

“We have explained all the circumstances to the Central Election Commission and have made extensive contacts with their bosses to clarify the danger of removing the name of a Palestinian prisoner who has made the greatest sacrifices,” Hamas said in a statement. “Today, however, we were surprised by the court’s decision to reject the appeal against his removal from our list.”

According to Hamas, “it is the duty of the Central Election Commission to make the necessary decisions and mechanisms that protect the political rights of all Palestinian prisoners.”

Senior Hamas official Ahmed Bahr condemned the decision to reject Salameh’s candidacy, calling it “treason to the sacrifices of our heroic prisoners.”

Bahr said Hamas hoped the CEC would “respect the sacrifices of our heroic prisoners and take into account their special circumstances.”

During the First Intifada, which broke out in 1987, Salameh fled the Gaza Strip and spent several years in Syria, Iran, Libya, and Sudan.

He returned to the Gaza Strip shortly after the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993 and was involved in several shooting attacks on IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers.

After the assassination of Hamas arch-terrorist and leading bomb maker Yahya Ayyash in January 1996, Hamas entrusted Salameh with the task of carrying out a series of terrorist attacks against Israel.

Salameh moved to the West Bank, where he planned a series of suicide attacks in Jerusalem and Ashkelon in which 46 people died and 91 were injured.

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