Photo: AP
Abu Tir and trademark red beard
Photo: AP
Police question senior Hamas man
Palestinian parliamentarian questioned on suspicion of violating police decree, organizing Hamas convention in Jerusalem area
Jerusalem police questioned Mahmoud Abu Tir Sunday evening, the number two figure on Hamas' list and the Jerusalem representative in the Palestinian Legislative Council.


According to police officials, Abu Tir violated a decree signed by Police Chief Moshe Karadi banning a Hamas convention from being held Monday in the village of Tzur Baher, located in the Jerusalem area.


Police officials said Abu Tir continued with preparations for the convention despite the decree. Another six Hamas members were detained along with Abu Tir and taken in for interrogation over the affair.


Following an interrogation, the seven suspects were released on bail, after being warned not to hold the convention. Meanwhile, police officers will deploy in force Monday in order to prevent the convention from being held.


'This isn't a political rally'


Responding to Abu Tir's arrest, Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafa told Ynet: "I heard the Jerusalem police called Abu Tir in for a short conversation in order to learn about the convention…and he will be released shortly."


"I read in the newspapers this morning that the police closed down the soccer field slated to host the convention," Arafa added. "The Jerusalem police should know they only contribute to the tension and instability, as this isn't a political rally. It's merely a religious rally on the occasion of prophet Muhammad's birth, to be marked tomorrow."


"The Hamas movement has no connection to it, and the movement has declared in the past it has no intention to operate in Jerusalem and clash with police," Arafa said. "Why do the police insist on claiming this is a Hamas event?"


This is not the first time senior Hamas figures are detained in the Jerusalem area. Abu Tir himself was questioned under warning in the past on suspicion of calling for the burning of the Danish flag to protest prophet Muhammad caricatures. Abu Tir's calls were allegedly made during Friday prayers at the Temple Mount.


At the beginning of the month, Israel detained Minister Arafa north of Jerusalem. The Shin Bet said Arafa was merely questioned at a roadblock because he attempted to enter the West Bank even though he carries an Israeli ID card.


However, the Palestinians said the minister was taken in for interrogation in an Israeli army jeep.


At that time, Abu Tir was among the first to respond to the report and told Ynet Arafa's arrest is an Israeli provocation.


"This is just a way to disrupt our activity but the government and the Hamas movement will continue to act on behalf of the Palestinians in the Jerusalem area," he said.


Roee Nahmias contributed to the story


First published: 16.04.06, 20:02
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