GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza released 45 prisoners affiliated with rival Palestinian faction Fatah on Feb. 25. 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 said the move was part of efforts to improve the atmosphere ahead of the upcoming Palestinian general elections. It said there are no prisoners "arrested for their political views and opinion" in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh asked on Feb .22 the Hamas group to release more than 80 “political prisoners” held in Gaza prisons.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued Feb. 20 a decree ordering that public freedoms be observed, including the freedom to engage in political activity, in accordance with the Palestinian Basic Law and other relevant law provisions.