JERUSALEM, AP – The campaign ad opens with a black background and the word “corruption,” which explodes into flames. The same thing happens to “nepotism,” “bribery,” “chaos,” and “stealing.”
Then comes footage of Palestinian gunmen fighting the Israeli army, and an image of the Al Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site.
“Our blood will be a wall to protect our holy site,” the narrator says in closing.
An unusual sort of political advertising is hitting the Palestinian airwaves as the Islamic militant group Hamas campaigns in Wednesday’s parliamentary elections.
The group is running for parliament for the first time, polling neck-to-neck with the Fatah party of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and dismaying Israel, the U.S. and Europe.
Hamas has focused on halting corruption and restoring law and order to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while Fatah has been unable to shed its corrupt image and overcome infighting and chaos.
The expected move into power by Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and still calls for Israel’s destruction, has thrown Palestinians’ international aid and future relations with the Jewish state into question.
Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with top military and political officials Sunday to discuss the growing likelihood that Hamas could dominate the elections.
The Hamas television ad was approved by the Palestinian election commission. Commercials for independent candidate Mustafa Barghouti and Fatah, meanwhile, resemble those of American political candidates.
In Barghouti’s ad, Palestinians from a boy in a wheelchair to an elderly woman talk about how his policies would improve their lives.
The Fatah commercial says women are important to advancing the Palestinian cause.