GAZA CITY, Palestine

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza released 45 prisoners affiliated with rival Palestinian faction Fatah on Thursday.

In a statement, it said the released prisoners were arrested over security issues that harmed resistance groups in Gaza, adding their arrests were not politically motivated.

The ministry added the move was part of efforts to improve the atmosphere ahead of the upcoming Palestinian general elections.

Earlier this week, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh asked the Hamas group to release more than 80 “political prisoners” held in Gaza prisons.

Last Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree to consolidate public freedoms ahead of the general elections, as part of the understandings between the Palestinian groups which met in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Feb. 8 and 9.

Palestinians are scheduled to vote in legislative elections on May 22 and in presidential polls on July 31. Elections for the Palestinian National Council will be held on Aug. 31.

The last legislative elections, in which Hamas won a majority, were held in 2006.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara.

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