Muslims pray at Temple Mount.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Police on Monday closed three NGOs they say were funneling money to activities meant to “inflame tensions on the Temple Mount.”
The charities involved were Ruad Al-Aksa, The Al-Jaffar Fund for Art and Literature, and the Nazareth-based Muslims for Al-Aksa, the Shin Bet said.
These groups were formed in October 2014 by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel “with the purpose of funding activities meant to disrupt the security of visitors to the Temple Mount and in order to inflame tensions and cause disturbances, while harming the sovereignty of the State of Israel at the site,” the agency said.
The closures follow a decision made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on December 29, when he declared them banned organizations.
The main issue appears to be paying Muslim activists, youths and students who arrive at the Temple Mount each day, often on buses organized by the Islamic Movement and the charities, and maintain a presence on the Mount during visiting hours.
These people tend to use verbal and physical violence to harass visitors “while harming freedom of religion through threatening the personal safety of visitors to the site,” the Shin Bet said.
The agency added that these NGOs were created to bypass the closure of the NGO Imarat Al-Aksa after it was declared an illegal organization in August 2014.
In May of last year, the Shin Bet announced the arrest of a senior Hamas operative who they said told interrogators that Hamas uses the Islamic Movement in Israel as a front to advance its activities and goals in Jerusalem.
Hamas pays youths a permanent salary of NIS 4,000- NIS 5,000 a month to stay on the Temple Mount and prevent Jews from visiting the site, he told them.