Israeli police arrested a firebrand Islamic cleric on Tuesday who has been repeatedly accused of inciting violence over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site where tensions again flared last month.
Raed Salah, released from prison in January after serving a nine-month sentence, is accused of inciting violence and terrorism as well as support for and participation in an illegal organisation, police said.
His group, the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was outlawed in 2015 after it was accused of inciting violence linked to Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Police said in Tuesday’s statement that Salah, an Arab Israeli, is accused of having publicly supported violent acts against the country on several occasions following the ban on his organisation.
It was not clear whether the accusations were linked to last month’s deadly unrest surrounding the holy site, which includes the revered Al-Aqsa mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.
Violence erupted in and around the compound after three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli policemen on July 14.
Israel responded by installing metal detectors at the entrance to the complex, used as a staging point for the attack.
For nearly two weeks, worshippers refused to submit to the checks and staged mass prayers in surrounding streets.
Ensuing protests and clashes left seven Palestinians dead, while three Israelis were fatally stabbed by a Palestinian assailant.
The crisis abated when Israel removed the detectors.
Salah served a nine-month prison term after being convicted of fomenting violent protests over the holy site.
He was convicted of having incited violence in a 2007 speech. He was convicted in 2014 and his appeals were later denied.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement following Salah’s Tuesday arrest that he hoped “this time justice will be done and he will be sent behind bars for a long time.”
The compound, central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the third-holiest in Islam and the most sacred for Jews.
It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.
Palestinians fear Israel will gradually seek to assert further control over it, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to the status quo. (France24)