JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police on Thursday raided the militant Hamas group’s election offices in east Jerusalem, confiscating material and shutting down the office for 15 days.
A sign police put on the door of the office said the company, “Farouk Cultural Forum,” was being used as “a place for the activities of a terrorist group.” The order was signed by Israel’s top police chief.
Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the office was closed to prevent Hamas from operating in Jerusalem. Israel opposes the participation of Hamas, responsible for scores of deadly attacks on Israelis, in the Palestinian parliamentary elections on Jan. 25. Israel barred election activities of all militant groups in east Jerusalem.
Israel claims east Jerusalem as part of its capital, but the Palestinians want the area, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war, to serve as their capital in a future Palestinian state.
Adel Abu Duhem, a receptionist at the office, said it was primarily used to teach women Islamic studies and had nothing to do with elections. But through the window a Hamas flag and what looked like banners were visible.
Police said it had stopped one person for questioning and had confiscated computers, documents and Hamas flags and hats.