Palestinian election: Members of security forces cast first ballots
Members of the Palestinian security forces cast the first ballots on Saturday in the Palestinian Legislative Council election, voting early before the main national poll next week. President Mahmoud Abbas‘ Fatah faction is predicted to make the strongest gains in the vote but Hamas, running for seats in the 132-member parliament for the first time, is also expected to post a strong showing.
Security officers are voting from Saturday to Monday to free them for duty on January 25, when Palestinian civilians will cast ballots in the West Bank , Gaza Strip and occupied Arab Jerusalem.
On his part, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah told followers on Friday: "We urge our brothers in the Palestinian security services to exercise their right to vote in complete freedom... We assure you that if we win, we will be at your service."
Meanwhile, armed men on Friday shot and injured an official from the Third Way party, a group of independents, running in the Palestinian legislative election, a spokesman for the candidate said, according to the AP.
A poll published on Saturday indicated Hamas had steadily closed the gap with Fatah. According to the poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, Fatah will capture 32.3 percent of the vote in Wednesday's election, while Hamas would win 30.2 percent. The Independent Palestine Party would come in third with 12.6 percent of the vote, according to the poll. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine would capture 7.6 percent of the vote.
In Gaza Strip, Hamas is running just a few percentage points behind Fatah, garnering 36.4 percent of the vote to Fatah's 36.7 percent, the poll has shown.