Israeli Muslim leader Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement's “Inner Palestine” division, has been arrested for allegedly assaulting police officers. The incident allegedly took place as officers dispersed an illegal gathering in Jerusalem. Four others, one of them Salah's personal guard, were arrested in connection with the same incident.
Infuriated Islamic Movement officials called Salah's arrest “unacceptable” and accused Israel of “Judaizing Jerusalem.”
The illegal gathering which Salah attended was connected to the Palestinian Authority's celebrations of its own version of “Jerusalem Day.” The PA, joined by the Arab League, has designated Jerusalem “the capital of Arab culture for 2009,” and kicked off celebrations on Saturday in what Israeli police called a violation of Israel's agreements with the PA and an attempt to flaunt Israeli sovereignty in the capital city.
Police cracked down on the “Jerusalem Day” events, closing eight meetings and arresting 20 people.
Islamic Movement officials said Salah did not visit Jerusalem to join the PA's celebrations, but to protest plans to destroy the houses of terrorists from Jerusalem. Several of Salah's supporters, who accompanied him during his stay in Jerusalem, did take part in the celebrations, they said.
When officers arrived to disperse the meeting, Salah and his supporters allegedly rioted, physically assaulting the police.
Salah has been arrested for alleged incitement and assault in the past, as well as for allegedly financing Hamas activities. He has served time in prison and has also been temporarily barred from Jerusalem, a sentence he received after a series of riots sparked when Muslim leaders accused Israel of attempting to destroy the Al Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount.