A primary election organised by the ruling Palestinian party Fatah has been suspended in most of the Gaza Strip after ballot boxes opened amid outbreaks of violence, officials say.
Fatah suspended voting in four out of five constituencies in the territory on Monday after armed men stormed into polling stations, set fire to ballot boxes or torched tyres to disrupt the process, officials and witnesses said.
Voting continued only in Gaza City. It was the second time Fatah primaries in the Gaza Strip, originally scheduled for Friday, have been delayed.
Despite promises from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to clamp down on chaos in the West Bank and Gaza, armed men and private militias continue to act with impunity.
Abbas' Fatah, which has dominated parliament and the cabinet for a decade, faces a fierce challenge from the powerful Islamist movement Hamas in the elections, as the group contests its first legislative ballot.
More than 300,000 Fatah members are eligible to vote to choose 50 out of 323 Fatah candidates in the Gaza Strip, ahead of the January ballot, the first Palestinian legislative election in a decade.
A Fatah member votes in the
Twenty-five Fatah candidates will stand in five Gaza constituencies. A similar number will be included on a Fatah-list under a system of partial proportional representation.
The Palestinian Legislative Council passed a law in June increasing the number of MPs to 132 from 88, stipulating that half be elected under a system of proportional representation and half by traditional constituencies.
Fatah primaries also scheduled in east Jerusalem and most of the West Bank on Friday were delayed because of "inadequate preparations".
Although the Palestinian party said primaries would be held in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem on Tuesday, Israeli Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra said police would stop the vote.
A Fatah member checks out the
Israel bans all Palestinian Authority activity in east Jerusalem.
On Friday, the jailed leader of the Palestinian uprising, Marwan Barghuti, swept aside his rivals in partial Fatah primaries in the West Bank, winning 96% of the vote in Ram Allah, beating 44 election rivals.