Jerusalem's Old City and the Temple Mount.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A network of suspects funneled cash payments to Islamist volunteers who harassed and intimidated Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, according to an indictment issued on Monday.
The indictment issued in the Jerusalem District Court on Monday charges defendants Muhammad Jabareen from Umm el-Fahm and Najib Qawasame Jida and Khalil Abasi from Silwan in east Jerusalem with unlawful use of property for the purpose of terrorism and membership in a banned organization.
A gag order secured on the indictment bans publication of further details.
The indictment deals with the groups that are known as Murabitun and Murabatat (with male and female members, respectively), and are made up of activists – many, but not all from northern Israel – who go to the Temple Mount on a daily basis to harass Jewish visitors.
Many who come from outside of Jerusalem are brought in on buses that are paid for by supporters, and members of the group are given daily stipends, according to authorities.
In September of last year, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a decree outlawing the Murabitun and Murabatat (Arabic for defenders of the faith, steadfast, or garrison soldiers), with his office saying at the time that the move followed the recommendation of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Israel Police.
“The Murabitun and Murabatat’s goal is to undermine Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount, change the reality and the existing arrangements, and harm freedom of worship,” the defense minister’s office said. They also accused the groups of playing a central role in inflaming tensions on the mount, which led to regular rioting in the months leading up to the “Stabbing Intifada.”
The groups were banned just two months before the security cabinet outlawed the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that the group seeks to undermine Israel. Weeks ahead of the vote, Israeli leaders charged that the group was fueling incitement on the Temple Mount, in part due to its alleged funding of the Murabitun and Murabatat.
A statement issued at the time by the Government Press Office said that “the Northern Movement, in collusion with Hamas, established two groups of activists – the Murabitun (for men) and the Murabitat (for women) – who are paid to create provocations and to harass Jews and other non-Muslims peacefully visiting the Temple Mount. The violent activities carried out by members of these groups have led to an increase in tensions on the Temple Mount.”