(JNi.media) Israel’s security cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Monday decided to declare the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel an unlawful organization. The announcement means that any association or individual who belong to this organization henceforth, and any person who gives this organization service or work under its auspices commits a criminal violation and will be subject to imprisonment. In addition, the decision permits confiscation of all property belonging to the organization.
The Islamic Movement in Israel began as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood during the 1936–39 Arab revolt in British governed Palestine. It was spurred by the cooperation between the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, and the Brotherhood. The group lay dormant during the early years of the State of Israel, when the Arab population lived under martial law, from 1949 to 1966. It came back to life in the 1970s, born by new ties between Israeli and Judea and Samaria Arabs. During the 1980s, the movement experienced a rapid increase in its support. After the Oslo Accords, the movement split between the northern branch which opposed the agreement, siding with Hamas, and the southern branch which supported the accords. The northern branch is dominated by Raed Salah Abu Shakra, former mayor of Umm al-Fahm, Israel, who is about to start serving a prison sentence for incitement to violence during the “Knives Intifada” that began in early September, 2015.
The Prime Minister said that the northern branch “has been leading for years an incitement campaign based on lies, labeled ‘Al Aqsa is in danger,’ falsely accusing Israel of plotting to harm the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to break the status quo. Under this guise, the northern branch established a network of paid activists (Murabitat, Arabic: soldiers) aimed at initiating provocation on the Temple Mount. These activities have resulted in a significant increase in tensions on the Temple Mount.”
The cabinet also received reports that many of the recent attacks in Israel, including in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, were carried out “against the background of that incitement and propaganda. Outlawing this organization is an essential step in maintaining public security and preventing casualties.”
The Prime Minister said, following the cabinet decision, that it “was made after a series of in-depth discussions with all the relevant legal and security elements, in order to stop the dangerous incitement at home and to avoid the loss of life of innocent civilians. My Government will continue to take whatever action is necessary against incitement and terror, and we continue to invest resources for the benefit of the citizens of Israel, Arabs and Jews alike.”
Israel Radio reported that, as part of the cabinet’s decision, bank accounts belonging to the Northern Branch have been frozen.