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Israeli police shut down organizations affiliated with outlawed Islamic Movement group

Oct. 7, 2016 10:46 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 9, 2016 10:37 P.M.)
NAZARETH (Ma’an) – Israeli police Thursday, escorted by Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet, raided and closed several institutions in Nazareth and Um al-Fahm in northern Israel for allegedly being affiliated with the Islamic Movement, reportedly confiscating equipment and computers.

Hebrew media reported that the raids were conducted in response to an order issued last year by former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, outlawing the northern branch of the movement and calling for a ban on all of the movement’s activities.

According to The Times of Israel, three organizations were shut down for alleged affiliation with the Islamic Movement, while their bank accounts were also frozen, after Israeli authorities accused the group of inciting unrest at occupied East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque -- known as the Temple Mount among Jews, a site of longstanding tension between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

Yaalon outlawed the Islamic Movement, which advocates for Islam and Palestinian nationalism within Israel, in November 2015 after accusing members of being linked to “terrorist groups” and inciting violence when the so-called “Jerusalem Intifada” first gripped the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.

A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said at the time that the declaration would allow Israel to imprison anyone who acted on the movement's behalf and also to seize any property belonging to the organization.

The Islamic Movement's northern branch, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, has been a vocal critic of Israeli activity at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

Israeli forces commonly storm the compound, while facilitating daily visits by right-wing Jews over a succession of Jewish holidays, in what Palestinian leaders and rights groups have said is a direct attempt to disrupt longstanding international agreements prohibiting Jewish worship at the site.

Palestinian fears that Israel has sought to divide the holy site between Muslims and Jews helped trigger mass demonstrations across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel at the beginning of October 2015.

Some two months before Israeli authorities banned the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, two Palestinian Muslim groups active at Al-Aqsa, which had depended on the Islamic Movement for their main source of funding, were also outlawed. 

The groups Murabitun and Murabitat were both banned for their alleged role in inciting violence and tension in the Al-Aqsa compound.

However, the group claimed that they were defending the mosque from Israeli extremists, who regularly enter the compound protected by armed guards, and incite against Palestinians.

The Murabitat and Murabitun gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to demonstrate against what they see as increasing Israeli control over the holy site.

The third holiest site in Islam, Al-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.
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