Local Islamist Leader Warns Israel Against Temple Mount Moves

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Sheik Ra'ad Salah, right, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, at a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners in June.Credit: Gil Eliyahu

The leader of the extremist northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, warned Thursday that any escalation directed at his movement or at Al-Aqsa Mosque will be resisted.

“We have a package of plans that can be implemented immediately,” Salah said at a Nazareth press conference convened by the Islamic Movement and attended by representatives of the parties in the Joint List, including MKs Ahmed Tibi, Mohammed Barakeh and Haneen Zoabi.

“The incitement and escalation are inherent in the occupation of Jerusalem and the mosque, and the best solution would be the removal of the occupation,” Salah said.

Referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement last week that “the northern branch is the largest focus of incitement in Israel in recent years” and that the government intends to take action against it, Salah condemned what he called “unbridled incitement against us by Israeli leaders, headed by Netanyahu and [President Reuven] Rivlin. We will not yield to threats intended to cow supporters of Al Quds [Jerusalem] and Al-Aqsa.”

The Islamic Movement blamed Netanyahu for the recent violence and “for future incidents that may result from arrogant occupation policies, led by Netanyahu,” said Salah.

Tibi also accused Netanyahu and the government of causing the violence. “Their conduct incites Palestinians, not the Islamic Movement. This includes shooting Palestinian youths and entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Tibi charged.

Preparations are underway in Nazareth for a Friday rally led by the youth movement Al-Hiraq Al-Shababi, which has led protests in other Arab communities. Police have arrested nine young men in the group on suspicion of organizing an illegal gathering.