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7 elderly Palestinians indicted for 'incitement' at Aqsa

April 29, 2016 1:21 P.M. (Updated: April 30, 2016 10:18 A.M.)
Palestinian women shout slogans as they hold copies of the Qoran during a protest against Jewish groups visiting the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem's Old City on Sept.16, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Seven elderly Palestinians from Jerusalem were issued indictments on Friday by an Israeli court for alleged incitement and involvement with Murabitun, an Islamic group outlawed by Israel last year.

The seven, indicted for alleged incitement at Al-Aqsa Mosque, were banned by the Israeli Magistrate Court from entering the holy site and the Old City of Jerusalem until their court date, which has been postponed until May 17th.

The seven men -- identified as Saadi al-Rajabi, Anwar al-Qaq, Adli Abu Rmeileh, Muhammad Taher Arafeh, Amin Yassin, Jamal al-Natsheh and Khader Abu Snine -- were detained almost two weeks ago after Israeli forces raided and searched their homes.

The seven are the most recent to be targeted by the Israeli authorities for alleged involvement with Murabitun, a group who frequently demonstrates at Al-Aqsa against what they see as increasing Israeli control over the holy compound.

Volunteers from the group and its female counterpart Murabitat often station themselves at Al-Aqsa in order to intervene when Israeli extremists attempt to worship on the compound -- an act which contravenes a longstanding agreement between Israel and the Islamic trust that controls the site not to allow non-Muslim worship in the area.

Last year Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon declared the Murabitun and Murabitat illegal organizations, before banning the groups’ main source of funding, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, months later.

Both were banned for their alleged role in inciting violence and tension in the Al-Aqsa compound.

However, the group claims they are defending the mosque from Israeli extremists, who regularly enter the compound protected by armed guards, and incite against Palestinians with the aim of challenging the long-standing status quo in the area.

The third holiest site in Islam, Aqsa is also venerated as Judaism’s most holy place, as it sits where Jews believe the First and Second Temples once stood.

Mainstream Jewish law forbids present-day entry to the Temple Mount; however, right-wing Israelis gaining ground in the current Israeli government have stoked fears in Palestinians since calling for the destruction of the mosque to make room for a Third Temple.

Tensions around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound contributed to the recent escalation of violence after right-wing Israelis made frequent visits to the site during a succession of Jewish holidays last fall.

Tensions have increased at the site yet again as right-wingers tour the site for the Passover holiday this week.
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