Palestinian security forces are having their say ahead of legislative elections in the West Bank and Gaza next week. They are casting their ballots early to free them for duty on Wednesday, the day of the main poll in the territories and Arab East Jerusalem.
The issue of security is itself high on the election agenda as internal Palestinian tensions have given rise to clashes, particularly in Gaza. The militant group Hamas is standing for the first time in the election for seats in the 132-member parliament. It appears set to make ground on the Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas.Hamas, which is dedicted to the destruction of Israel, has grown in popularity amid allegations of corruption in Fatah and the ruling elite.
Security forces voting today are expected largely to support Fatah, though Hamas has made a big campaign push to sway opinion among officers. Both Israel and the US have opposed the participation of Hamas in the election.