Cleric: Israel arrests Arabs for loving Al-Aqsa

Head of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement says Israel is falsely accusing Arabs of terror.

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Dalit Halevi,

Sheikh Raed Salah
Sheikh Raed Salah
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, on Thursday rejected the charges against four members of the movement who were arrested for planning a terror attack.

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), which announced the arrests on Tuesday, said the terror cell comprised of Arabs with Israeli citizenship who planned an attack against IDF soldiers in the Negev, in revenge for the Islamic Movement being outlawed.

Salah, however, said the accusations against the four were false, claiming in an official statement that the prosecution in Israel files indictments for staying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, holding meals to break the fast of Ramadan, distributing meat to needy families in Jerusalem on Eid al-Adha and renovating mosques.

The announcement of the arrest of the suspects, claimed Salah, was intended to conceal the fact that the Shin Bet arrests Palestinian Arabs on the pretext that they "love the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

Saleh served a nine-month jail sentence after being convicted of encouraging violent attacks and inciting racism in a 2007 sermon.

The radical cleric has in the past labeled Israeli leaders “terrorists” and “enemies of Allah” in a speech to Muslims in Be’er Sheva, and was also jailed for five months in 2010 for spitting at an Israeli police officer.

The Israeli government outlawed the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, which Salah heads, in November of 2015.