Elul 28, 5773, 03/09/13
Islamic Movement leader arrested over calls for Muslims to physically prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount.
by Ari Soffer
Sheikh Raed Salah, the infamous leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, has been arrested today, following calls he made to his followers last week, in which he urged them to block Jews from ascending the Temple Mount "with their bodies."
Israel Police spokesman Superintendent Mickey Rosenfeld announced via Twitter that Salah - who has served time in jail before for extremist activities - was arrested on charges of "incitement against Israel and regarding the Temple Mount," and is currently being questioned by police.
Last weekend, Salah claimed to his followers that Israel is planning to “break in” to the Temple Mount, on which the Islamic Al Aqsa compound is located, built atop the ruins of two Jewish Temples.
Salah was likely referring to a recent statement by a police commander, who informed the Knesset that police will try not to restrict Jewish visits to the Temple Mount during the upcoming holiday season. Jewish visitors are allowed to tour part of the Temple Mount compound, but do not enter the Al Aqsa mosque or the Dome of the Rock shrine.
Salah also claimed to have information indicating that Israel is planning to build a synagogue on the Temple Mount. He also alleged that Israel plans to institute the same system used at the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Maarat Hamachpelah) in Hevron on the Temple Mount, whereby Jews and Muslims share the site, and special holy spaces are allocated for each group, enabling Jews and Muslims to pray freely on a daily basis.
Current restrictions on Jewish visitors to the Mount include a ban on prayer or the performance of any religious rituals - despite the status of the Temple Mount as Judaism's holiest site. Jews are regularly banned from ascending the site altogether, and are often harassed by Muslim worshippers, despite court rulings ordering the implementation of religious freedom.
After warning of the alleged "danger" of increased Jewish prayer at the site, Salah called on Muslims from across Israel - from the Negev and Galilee, Akko and Haifa - to descend on the Temple Mount to prevent the “dangerous mass invasion into Al Aqsa” with their bodies.
In the past, such statements have led the Israel Police to close the Temple Mount for Jews out of concern that Jewish presence at the holy site could be met with Muslim riots. The police policy of restricting Jewish access in order to maintain quiet has led to complaints of discrimination.
Ra'ed Salah has a long history of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments.
During a speech at a 2007 demonstration he infamously accused Jews of using children's blood to bake blood, invoking the medieval blood libels used to trigger murderous pogroms in both Europe and the Middle East. He also called for a "third intifada" over Israeli plans to excavate near the Temple Mount.
Salah also spent a brief period in jail for transferring money to Hamas, and famously "reminisced" fondly over the drawing of swastikas as a child, in a 2009 interview with a London-based Arabic language TV station.
The Temple Mount is the holiest place on earth according to Jewish tradition, and was the site of the First and Second Temples of the Jewish nation in ancient Israel.