Palestinians are voting in large numbers in the parliamentary elections, with the ruling Fatah party facing an unprecedented challenge to its grip on power from Hamas.

Voting opened across the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and East Jerusalem on Wednesday against a background of massive security in place.
 
Initial results were expected shortly after the close of polling at 7 pm where as preliminary official results are expected 24 hours later.
 
All Palestinian political factions, except the Islamic Jihad Movement and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, are participating in the elections.
 
Palestinian voters complain agaisnt the Israeli procedures in Jerusalem polling stations.  Palestinians in Jerusalem cast their votes in the post offices in the city.  Israel refused to allow the Central Election Commission to set up polling stations in the city.
 
The Post offices are not equipped to accommodate elections.  No secrecy is available for the voters.
 
On the other hand, Al-Jazeera satellite channel reported that 300 Israeli settlers guarded by Israeli forces were controlling the entire old part of the city of Hebron.
 
The forces prevented some 5500 voters from casting their votes by not allowing the opening of polling stations. Some headed out of the city to cast their votes in other polling booths.
 
There were no incidents in Hebron. Also, Palestinian police were not allowed to enter the city to guard any of the polling stations.
 
Some reports said that turnout in the first three hours of the polling was up to 20 percent and is expected to could have reached 50 percent by now.
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