security forces have raided the offices of the Islamic Movement and al-Aqsa
institution in the northern Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm, accusing them
of supporting the Palestinian Hamas movement.
Dozens of police officers and agents from the Shin Bet intelligence
agency took part in the raid early on Sunday.
Documents, computers, and a safe with hundreds of thousands of dollars
were confiscated in the operation which was ordered by the defence
ministry, a police official said.
Israeli security forces accuse the institution, which is run by the
Israeli Arab Islamist party, of channelling funds to the Hadawa
organisation in east Jerusalem, which is operated by Hamas.
Israeli media also reported that some of the Islamic Movement's bank
accounts had been frozen by the authorities.
The Al-Aqsa institution was established to defend the mosque in
Jerusalem's Old City - considered the third holiest site in Islam - from
nearby construction projects and other actions it views as threats to
horrible closure of the al-Aqsa foundation comes for only one reason;
because the al-Aqsa foundation reveals the truth to the whole world,"
Sheikh Raad Salah, head of the Islamic Movment in northern Israel told
"This truth terrifies Israel and discloses the horrible crimes of the
Israeli occupation authorities in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and in the holy
that the homes of several employees of the al-Aqsa institution had also
"For example, they have raided the house of Ali Abu Sheikha, head of the
al-Aqsa Foundation, and scattered all its contents," he said by
telephone from Umm al-Fahm.
Salah indicated that he believed the raids were a reaction to a news
conference given two weeks during which he said revealed that a number
of Israeli projects posed a threat to the al-Aqsa mosque and the old
city of Jerusalem.
this has pushed Israel to do such a childish, unreasonable action and
raid the office of al-Aqsa Foundation for the Reconstruction of Islamic
Sanctities," he said.
In August 2007, Salah was indicted for "inciting racism and violence"
for calling for a "third Intifada," or uprising, to defend the mosque.
On Friday, tens of thousands of people attended an Islamic Movement
rally in Umm al-Fahm to highlight what the group says are threats to the
monument, which is built on Judaism's holiest site.
The Islamic Movement, which was founded in 1970, has two MPs in the
Israel and Hamas- which took full control of the Gaza Strip after
forcing out security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian
president in June 2007 - have been observing an easy truce aimed at
ending rocket attacks and stopping Israeli raids.
On Thursday, Jordan lodged a protest against plans to carry out
excavation and construction work near the al-Aqsa mosque compound which
officials in Amman say violates a 1994 peace treaty.
Mohammed Abu Hdeib, head of the lower house of parliament's committee on
international affairs, told the AFP news agency that the planned work
"threatens the foundations of Al-Aqsa".
warned that this could "lead to a new violent conflict in the Middle
East because Jerusalem is a red line for Muslims and Arabs".
Al Jazeera and agencies
In February last year, Israel began excavation work on a pathway leading
from the Western Wall to the compound sparking Muslim outrage and
prompting the UN cultural organisation to call for an immediate halt to
the work. The Jerusalem mayor's office suspended work the same month.