Sheikh Raed Salah in court
Sheikh Raed Salah in courtYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Diplomacy and Security Cabinet has declared the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel an illegal organization. The Northern Wing is the more extreme wing of the Islamic Movement, and is headed by Sheikh Ra'ad Salah of Umm el Fahm.

The Minister of Defense has signed a decree to this effect. This means that any person or body that offers services to the organization or operates within it will be breaking the law and can expect to be jailed.

In addition, all property belonging to the group can be seized.

Following the declaration, shut-down orders have been delivered to and pasted on the offices of 17 Islamic Movement-affiliated NGOs throughout Israel. Thirteen of these offices were searched as well.

The raids took place in Umm el Fahm, Yafo, Nazareth, Kafr Kana, Turan, Be'ersheva and Rahat. Computers and cash were seized, and the NGOs' bank accounts were frozen.

"For years, the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement has been leading a campaign of deception under the headline 'Al Aqsa is in danger,' which falsely accuses Israel of intending to damage the Al Aqsa mosque and break the status quo," the Cabinet decision said. "Within this framework, the Northern Wing established an array of paid activists – the murabitun / murabitat – for the purpose of initiating provocations on the Temple Mount. This activity has led to a meaningful escalation in tensions on the Temple Mount. Many of the terror attacks carried out recently were executed against the background of this incitement and propaganda."

"The Northern Wing under Sheikh Ra'ed Salah is a sister to the Hamas terror organization," the Cabinet added. "The two movements cooperate closely and secretly. The Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement is a separatist-racist organization that does not recognize the institutions of the state of Israel, negates its right to exist and calls for an Islamic caliphate in its stead."

Salah was handed an 11-month jail sentence in October after the courts rejected his appeal of a conviction on charges of incitement. The charges relate to a sermon he delivered in 2007, in which he said that "the finest moments are when we meet God as martyrs for Al-Aqsa," and that "we will purify the blood of innocent people [...] and remove the soul of Israeli occupation soldiers who are occupying the Al-Aqsa Mosque." Following his speech, a Palestinian Arab mob rioted and threw rocks at security forces in the Old City, wounding three Border Police officers.

He was initially convicted on the incitement charge in March 2014 and sentenced to eight months in prison, but both he and the prosecution appealed. Salah has a long history of inciting violence focused around Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

Photos: Israel Police Spokesman's Unit