The Palestinian Central Elections Commission has rejected the candidacy of a senior Hamas terrorist who is serving 46 consecutive life sentences and another 30 years in Israeli prison for directing three mass-casualty attacks in Israel.
The commission ruled that Hassan Salameh, a former commander of Hamas’s military wing, Izaddin al-Qassam, will not be able to run in the upcoming parliamentary election, slated for May 22, because his name does not appear on the commission’s final voter registry.
The commission defended its decision by arguing that it was an executive body entrusted with implementing the election law.
The CEC pointed out that it has accepted the candidacy of many Palestinian prisoners who met the commission's conditions, including registration. The commission said that it has approved the candidacy of another 10 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.
He was No. 13 on the Hamas electoral list that was recently submitted to the CEC. The list is called “Jerusalem is Our Destiny.”
On Monday, a Palestinian elections court rejected an appeal by Hamas 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 Elections Commission and made extensive contacts with its heads 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 Elections Commission to take 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, dubbing it a “betrayal of the sacrifices of our heroic prisoners.”
Bahr said that Hamas was hoping that the CEC would “respect the sacrifices of our heroic prisoners and take into account their special circumstances.”
During the First Intifada, which erupted in 1987, Salameh fled the Gaza Strip and spent a number of 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 against IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers.
After the assassination of Hamas arch-terrorist and chief 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 number of suicide attacks in Jerusalem and Ashkelon in which 46 people were killed and 91 wounded.