HEBRON, Palestine

The Israeli army detained three prominent leaders from the Hamas group in Hebron city, southern West Bank.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that an Israeli soldier detained Hatem Qaffeisha, 58, a top Hamas leader in Hebron, and a Palestinian lawmaker.

Former Local Governance Minister Isa Al-Jabari, 55, and top Hamas figure Mazen al-Natsha, 49, were also detained.

The three figures have been jailed several times by the Israeli army.

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

In February, key Hamas members were detained including Mustafa al-Shannar, Adnan Asfour, Yaser Mansour, Khalid el-Haj, Abdel-Basit el-Haj, Omar al-Hanbali and Faze’ Sawafteh.

Hamas says the Israeli authorities aim from such arrests 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.

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