A general view of the Givat Hamatos neighborhood is seen in east Jerusalem .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Police shut down an illegal purported press conference orchestrated by the recently outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, outside an east Jerusalem hotel on Thursday afternoon.
Palestinian media reported that riot officers used force, including stun grenades, to disperse the crowd of roughly 30 men, and arrested one of the group’s leaders, Abu Bahar Alshemi, at the gathering outside the Commodore Hotel.
A video posted on YouTube showed border policemen firing stun grenades at the group and taking a screaming Alshemi into custody.
There were no injuries or additional arrests.
The press conference, under the theme “Our humanity is stronger than their ban,” was organized by Muhammad Barakeh, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel, to denounce the November government ban on the radical group.
“There was an illegal event by the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which has recently been classified by law as an illegal organization, so police units arrived in the area and shut it down,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, who did not confirm Alshem’s arrest.
In late November, shortly after the group was outlawed by the government, thousands of its members protested the decision across the country, with more than 15,000 gathering in Umm al-Fahm.
Although the northern and less violent southern branches of the movement are highly integrated into Arab society and have the support of most Muslim citizens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that the northern branch actively seeks to destabilize Israel society.
Indeed, the outlawed group has chronically incited violence against Israeli civilians, with an emphasis on the Temple Mount, where its members led dozens of riots to block Jewish visitors amid false claims of an imminent takeover of al-Aksa Mosque by the government.
Moreover, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which paid hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children to go to the contested holy site daily to harass Jewish visitors, works closely with Hamas with the stated goal of replacing Israel with a caliphate.
The group’s outspoken leader, Raed Salah, who has repeatedly been incarcerated for incitement, patently rejects the Oslo Peace Accords and refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The southern branch remains legal.