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Israel police detain top Hamas MP for allegedly planning illegal rally

[JURIST] Israeli police arrested seven Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council [official website] in Jerusalem on Sunday, including top MP Mohammed Abu Teir. Jerusalem police claimed that the men were violating a decree banning a political rally in the city. The men were briefly interrogated and released without charges. Teir, who was the number two candidate on the Hamas ballot in the January elections [JURIST report], had complained publicly earlier this month when Khaled Abu Arafa, the minister of Jerusalem affairs, was also detained by police [JURIST report] and released without charges. Arafa was supposedly attempting to open an office in east Jerusalem, which is prohibited under current peace accords until a permanent settlement is reached. In response to Teir's arrest, Arafa told the press that the rally was neither a political event nor one that is connected with Hamas, but instead a celebration of the birth of Mohammed. Last month, Israeli officials announced that they would contemplate assassinating top Hamas leaders [JURIST report] if the group resumed attacks in Israel. Hamas [MIPT backgrounder] is still considered a terrorist organization by much of the international community.

The arrests came a day before a Palestinian suicide bomber detonated a bomb in Tel Aviv [AP report], leaving eight other people dead and at least 49 wounded; Islamic Jihad [MIPT backgrounder] has claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the Palestinian Interior Ministry on Monday called the attack "a direct result of policy of the occupation and the brutal aggression and siege committed against our people."
YNet news has local coverage. AFP has more.

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