TEL AVIV, November 17, 2015 (WAFA) – The Israeli cabinet Monday night decided to outlaw the Islamic Movement’s northern branch in Israel, a step that was vehemently condemned by Amnesty International, a human rights movement.
The Israeli cabinet’s announcement would effectively allow Israel to imprison anyone who acts on the movement’s behalf and also to seize any property belonging to the organization.
“Per the announcement, any organization or individual belonging to the northern branch or found assisting the organization in any way will be committing a criminal offense and is liable for imprisonment. Moreover, the announcement gives the government permission to confiscate all land that belongs to the organization,” reported the Israeli daily, Haaretz.
Israeli police and agents of the Shin Bet domestic security service raided and shut down 17 offices and organizations affiliated with the Islamic Movement in Umm al-Fahem, Yaffa, Nazareth, Kufr Kanna, Tur‘an, Beersheba, and Rahat, where they seized documents, computers and funds as well as froze the movement’s bank accounts.
Police summoned several of the movement’s members for questioning, including Sheikh Raed Salah, his deputy Sheikh Kamal Khatib and the organization’s head of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque affairs, Salman Abu Ahmad.
The Islamic Movement’s northern branch, led by Sheikh Raed Salah and largely based in northern Israel, has played a leading role in defending Al-Aqsa mosque compound against increasing Israeli incursions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office reportedly alleged that this announcement is an “essential step in maintaining public security” and is directed toward those who “motivate and support incitement and racist activities, destabilize the area and cause emotional harm.”
Netanyahu’s Office stated: “The northern branch of the Islamic Movement has for years lead a deceitful campaign of incitement under the title ‘Al-Aqsa is in danger,’ falsely accusing Israel of intending to harm the mosque and deviate from the status quo.”
It added that ‘the northern branch established a salaried group of activists (called the Morabitat) aimed at initiating provocations on the ‘Temple Mount’. . . . A large portion of the recent attacks were carried out against the backdrop of this incitement and propaganda.”
It claimed that the move “is not directed against the Arab and Muslim public in Israel, the great majority of which upholds the laws of the state and disavows incitement and terrorism.”
It accused the Islamic Movement’s northern branch of being “a separatist, racist group that does not recognize the institutions of the State of Israel, denies its right to exist, and calls for replacing it with an Islamic Caliphate in its place.”
Israeli cabinet had outlawed the Murabitun and Murabitat; (male and female protectors of the mosque) and banned them from visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The Islamic Movement’s northern wing has held an annual conference under the slogan ‘Al-Aqsa is in danger’, warning that Israel plans to destroy it to build a temple in its place.
Last month, the wing’s leader, Raed Salah, was sentenced to 11 months in jail on charges of inciting violence at the mosqu’s compound in a 2007 speech.
In a press statement, Head of the Arab Higher Follow-up Muhammad Baraka decried the cabinet’s decision.
“Netanyahu’s government and Israeli extremist parties seek to cover up its vicious criminal and racist policies against our people, aligning themselves with the so-called free world. Their mentality and decades-long policies of war, occupation and oppression and pursuant destruction and deprivation of an entire people from freedom and independence are nothing but terrorism itself.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International expressed concerns over the selective application of freedom of opinion and expression in Israel and slammed this Israeli step as a grave violation of the freedom of expression and association.
CEO of Amnesty International in Israel Jonathan Ger reportedly said that when Israeli political leaders, including Netanyahu and his ministers, incite against the Palestinian minority in Israel, they enjoy full immunity, whereas the northern branch of the Islamic Movement is outlawed as a result of the remarks made by one of its leaders.
Amnesty International stated that the Islamic Movement should have been granted the chance to take fair judicial proceedings to defend itself and called for respecting the freedom of expression and association and upholding equality before the law.