Hamas activists arrested after Palestinian student poll

By Kaamil Ahmed

JERUSALEM (AA) – Israel’s military said it arrested five Hamas activists for “illegal activities” in and around the occupied West Bank’s administrative capital Ramallah overnight Wednesday.

The Israeli army did not elaborate on what the activists were accused of, but local witnesses told Anadolu Agency that at least four of them were ex-detainees.

The arrests followed the political party’s victory in Wednesday’s student council elections at the prestigious Birzeit University on the outskirts of Ramallah.

The student elections marked a rare opportunity for Hamas, who govern the blockaded Gaza Strip, to hold public rallies in the West Bank — and only inside the universities — where they face opposition from both Israeli forces and the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by the rival Fatah faction.

According to Birzeit’s Dean of Student Affairs Mohammad al-Ahmad, the Hamas-backed candidates won half of the seats in the student council election, which around 75 percent of the university’s students voted in.