September 22, 2013 Sunday 18 Tishri 5774
by Yasser Okbi and jpost.com staff
Umm al-Fahm rally called "Al Aksa is in Danger," attended by tens of thousands of Israeli-Arabs.
Tens of thousands of Israeli-Arabs attended the "Al-Aksa is in Danger" rally in Umm al-Fahm on Friday, organized by the Islamic Movement's northern branch.
The festival came some two weeks after Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, was arrested and subsequently ordered by the Jerusalem District Court to stay at least 30 kilometers away from the Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Salah had given an inflammatory speech, calling for violence against Jews at the Temple Mount.
The Islamic Movement, also known as the Islamic Movement in 48 Palestine, is a pro-Palestinian and anti- Zionist organization based in northern and southern Israel. Its origins can be traced back to the latter years of the British mandate.
Friday marked the 18th annual "Al-Aksa is in Danger" festival. It was broadcast live on a number of television networks in the Arab world, including Al-Jazeera. The festival was held at Umm al-Fahm's soccer stadium, located in the Wadi Ara region of Israel.
Islamic Movement leaders warned the Arab and Islamic world against "Israel's plan, which has lately gained the support of right-wing MKs, to destroy the Aksa Mosque and to build a Jewish temple at the site."
A large picture of deposed Islamist Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was displayed on the stage as well as a large Syrian flag and the slogan "freedom for Syria."
Sheikh Husam Abu Lil, who served as master of ceremonies at the event, said that Israel was "taking advantage of the Muslim people's focus on their interior tragedies" to destroy mosques and allow Jewish extremists to defile al-Aksa.
"This occupier is igniting the flame under the volcano that stands to explode at any moment," he added.
In his speech at the rally, Salah said: "I am telling Israel that we are standing against it and that it cannot divide the Aksa Mosque. The Israeli occupation cannot build a Jewish temple in place of al-Aksa."
He also appeared to direct warnings to the Palestinian Authority and the military leaders of Egypt.
"Anyone who gives away one stone from al-Aksa, or one meter of east Jerusalem, or whoever gives up the right of return, or the right to free prisoners or who plots against Gaza or who starves our people to death in Gaza is a traitor."
Salah's deputy Sheikh Katib said in address to Israel's political and religious leadership: "Why are you leading your countrymen to oblivion? Why are you igniting a holy war in which you will be the first to be burned?"
Daniel K. Eisenbud contributed to this report.