Israel's closure of Islamic charity leaves 500 needy Arab families without benefits

The Jaffa Association for Charity has been shut since the security cabinet’s November 17 designation of the Islamic Movement as illegal.

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November 24, 2015 05:12
1 minute read.
Leader of the northern Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah

Leader of the northern Islamic Movement Sheikh Raed Salah gestures after leaving the district court in Jerusalem October 27, 2015.. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

The closure of a charity linked to the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement has left 500 needy families bereft of welfare benefits, a former head of the organization told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The Jaffa Association for Charity has been shut since the security cabinet’s November 17 designation of the Islamic group as illegal, leaving families they assist with no support, Islamic Movement member Mahmoud Abeed, a former head of the charity, said.

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“The checks have stopped. The government seized the money and closed the office,” Abeed, editor of the Yaffa48 website, also associated with the outlawed Islamic group, said.

Abeed said Israeli welfare authorities have in the past referred families to the charity for help.

Mahmoud Hssayan, the current charity chairman, told the Post that government social workers had been calling to urge him to help Jaffa families, adding, “we even help some Jewish and Christian Jaffa residents.

Hssayan said his organization operated independently of the Islamic Movement, which he said, “doesn’t tell us what to do.”

The northern branch of the Islamic Movement is led by Sheikh Raed Salah, who has been convicted in the past of involvement in funding Hamas, contacting an Iranian agent, assaulting a police officer, and leading a violent protest.

Salah has also organized protests against Israeli actions at the Temple Mount, where al-Aksa mosque is located.

Since Salah’s group has been outlawed, police have shut down 17 of its offices and seized documents, computers and funds and froze some bank accounts.

The Joint List has organized a protest expected to be held on Tuesday against the banning of the group. MKs, lawyers, and members of the public have been invited to attend the event at the Negev debate hall in the Knesset.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended outlawing the group by accusing it of seeking to undermine Israel, inciting violence, cooperating closely with Hamas and seeking to replace Israel with a caliphate.

“We have nothing against Islam,” Netanyahu said. “We have nothing against the Muslim citizens of Israel, who enjoy full equal rights, and the vast majority of whom are law abiding citizens. But we will continue to act against inciters, and those who encourage terrorism.”

Herb Keinon and Reuters contributed to this report.


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