RAMALLAH, Palestine

Israeli forces detained 13 Palestinians, including a Hamas leader, in overnight raids across the occupied West Bank, according to a Palestinian NGO on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Palestinian Prisoner Society said the arrests took place in the cities of Tubas, Jenin, East Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron.

Leading Hamas member Faze’ Sawafteh was among those detained in the raids, Fuad al-Khafash, the director of Ahrar Centre for Prisoners and Human Rights Studies, told Anadolu Agency.

Sawafteh, 47, was previously detained by the Israeli army and served more than 12 years in Israeli prisons.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has earlier warned of Israeli plans to stage a mass arrest campaign against the resistance group ahead of the Palestinian elections later this year.

Over the past month, several Hamas members were detained in Israeli raids, with the Palestinian group warning that the Israeli arrests aim to disrupt the Palestinian elections and affect its results.

Hamas also accused the Israeli authorities of threatening its members by the Israeli intelligence of imprisonment if they run in the upcoming elections.

Palestinians are scheduled to vote in the legislative elections on May 22, presidential polls on July 31 and the National Council on Aug. 31.
The last legislative elections were held in 2006 in which Hamas won the majority.

Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara