World Bulletin / News Desk
Israel has banned a group of Muslim activists known for campaigning for Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, accusing them of “incitement and propaganda.”
A government statement issued Tuesday said the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, based within Israeli territory and led by the now-imprisoned activist Raed Salah, was banned after a decision by the Israeli security cabinet.
The organization’s daily protests at Al-Aqsa -- Islam's third holiest site -- against perceived threats to the mosque from Israel, have irked the government, leading to dozens of its activists being blacklisted from entering the mosque and its leader Salah being sentenced to prison for “inciting violence.”
“This [Islamic Movement] activity has led to a significant increase in tension on the Temple Mount. A significant portion of recent terrorist attacks have been committed against the background of this incitement and propaganda,” said the statement, referring to violence that has killed 88 Palestinians and 13 Israelis since October. “Any person who gives it service, or who acts on its behalf, will be committing a criminal offense and is subject to imprisonment. It will also be possible to seize all property belonging to the organization.”
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Anadolu Agency that Israeli police confiscated documents and computers after searching 17 offices linked to the Islamic Movement across the north.
The most recent tension was widely believed to have been set off on Sep. 13 when Israel introduced age-based restrictions on entering Al-Aqsa to coincide with a series of Jewish holidays, when many Jews visit the site, which they also consider holy.
Salah’s branch of the Islamic Movement, like most Palestinian factions, protested the restrictions. They said the restrictions were an attempt to change agreements on how Al-Aqsa is managed.
They also said the mosque itself is under threat from Israel, who they accuse of wanting to physically divide the compound between Muslims and Jews.
In a recorded message played at a rally in Jordan on Saturday, Salah said his imprisonment would strengthen his resolve “to work for the eventual liberation of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Sami Abo Zahri said Tuesday that the Israeli ban was a racist act against Arab presence inside the occupied lands of Palestine.
Israel's interior ministry also immediately placed travel bans on three senior officials in the northern branch of the Islamic Movement as rights groups accuse the government of cracking down on Palestinian citizens of Israel reports Al Jazeera.
Along with the movement's leader Sheikh Raed Salah, travel bans were also issued to deputy leader Kamal Khatib and Yousef Awawdeh, head of the movement's public relations office.
Salah and Awawdeh are banned from travelling until January 15, 2016, while Khatib is forbidden from leaving the country until January 18.
Omar Khamayseh, a lawyer at the Nazareth-based Arab Association for Human Rights and Salah's legal representative, said the Israeli government has issued him several travel bans in the past.