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
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.
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.
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
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.
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