[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."
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