Police raid 'Hamas office' in east J'lem

Hamas MP Nayef Rajoub released after serving 50-month term.

Hamas security forces demonstrate their skills (photo credit: AP)
Hamas security forces demonstrate their skills
(photo credit: AP)
Armed with recently acquired intelligence information and an order signed by Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen, Jerusalem Police on Sunday shut down an office in the eastern section of the city that had allegedly been used by Hamas as a fundraising and recruitment center.
No violent incidents were reported as officers arrived at the office – located at 19 Haroun el-Rashid Street, near the Herod’s Gate entrance to the Muslim Quarter of the Old City – and carried out the order to shut it down.
RELATED:Hamas legislator Abu Tir released
Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmulik Ben-Ruby confirmed that one man had been inside the office when police arrived early Sunday afternoon, although he was not taken in for questioning and complied with police orders to vacate the premises while the office was shuttered.
Ben-Ruby added that the office had been a managerial branch of the movement, used for raising funds and recruitment, and was not part of Hamas’s military wing.
Nonetheless, the move came some five days after Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hamas was making a concerted effort to purchase land and properties throughout the Jerusalem municipal area.
Diskin also said that, along with Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Islamic Movement were all currently operating in east Jerusalem and that the groups were competing with one another in an effort to gain influence and widen their presence in the area.
Also on Sunday, Nayef Rajoub, a Hamas legislator from the Hebron area, was released from Israeli prison after serving a 50-month sentence.
Rajoub was one of 40 Hamas legislators and senior officials who were arrested by the IDF in the West Bank shortly after the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit in 2006.
Prior to his arrest, he served as Minister for Wakf Affairs in the Hamas-controlled government.
In recent months, Israel has released many of the Hamas representatives who were arrested then.
With the release of Rajoub, only nine Hamas legislators remain in Israeli prison.
Another two Fatah legislators, Marwan Barghouti and Jamal Tirawi, are also in Israeli prison.
Upon his release from prison, Rajoub urged the Palestinian Authority to stop security coordination with Israel “as a first step toward confronting Israel’s racist policies.” He also called on the PA to stop pursuing Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
He is the brother of Jibril Rajoub, a former PA security commander and one of the prominent leaders of Fatah in the West Bank, who was one of the first to conduct security coordination with Israel.
The former security commander was also known for his ruthless crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Israel’s decision to deport four Hamas legislators from east Jerusalem has angered both the PA and Hamas.
The Ministry of Interior last month revoked the permanent residency status of the four men and confiscated their Israeli ID cards. The four were given one month to leave Israel or face detention.
The Palestinians fear that the deportation of the four Hamas legislators [which was upheld by the High Court] could serve as a precedent for revoking the permanent residency status of thousands of Arab residents of Jerusalem.
Last week PA President Mahmoud Abbas asked US special envoy George Mitchell to put pressure on Israel to rescind its decision.
The PA has also sent a letter to the US Administration warning that such a move could lead to the suspension of peace talks with Israel.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said on Sunday that the decision to deport the four legislators was “one of the most dangerous decisions against Jerusalem and Palestinian legislators.”
Haniyeh, who was speaking at a special session of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City to discuss the repercussions of the decision, condemned the move as “another Israeli crime.”