Police close Hamas election office in capital

Jerusalem police on Thursday raided an east Jerusalem office being used by Hamas as its city campaign headquarters for next week's Palestinian parliamentary elections, in the second such action in the last week, police said. The office, located in the village of Jebl Mukaber, was shut for the next 15 days on order of the chief of police, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. One person in the office, called the "Farouk Cultural Forum," was detained for questioning. Police confiscated computers and documents as well as Hamas flags and hats during the late morning raid. Later in the afternoon, two Jerusalem Arabs were detained for questioning while trying to put up election posters in the city, police said. Several dozen Arabs who tried to forcibly prevent their arrest were dispersed by police with stun grenades. Israel has forbidden all terror organizations, such as Hamas, from campaigning in east Jerusalem. Over the last week, police have carried out a series of raids in an attempt to scuttle such activity in the city, including a Sunday raid on another Hamas office. The issue of Jerusalem Arabs' voting in the city is largely, and highly, symbolic. There are about 5,000 eligible voters in east Jerusalem. In the last Palestinian parliamentary elections held in 1996, only about 1,500 Jerusalem Arabs actually voted. Only a couple of hundred Arab residents of Jerusalem have registered to vote in Wednesday's elections.