Police raids Islamic Movement offices

Barak declares Al-Aksa Institute illegal based on suspicions that it is collaborating with Hamas.

Raed Salah 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Raed Salah 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Some 300 police officers raided the Al-Aksa Institute in Umm el-Fahm late Saturday night, targeting a building that served as the nerve center of the Islamic Movement's northern branch. Police seized computers and documents, and froze several bank accounts belonging to the movement. The operation was launched after Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued an order declaring the Al-Aksa Institute an illegal organization. The decree was based on Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police suspicions that the organization was collaborating with Jerusalem-based Hamas commanders. According to the suspicions, the institution was working together with the "Union of Good" - an umbrella organization for foundations operated by Hamas around the world, especially in Europe and Gulf states. The organization was outlawed by Israel in 2002 due to its support of Hamas. "Some 100 officers raided the building, while 200 more formed an outer circle," a police spokesman said. The spokesman added that large numbers of officers were needed due to the "nature of the mission," adding that the raid had gone smoothly. Police were acting on orders from Barak and the Shin Bet, he said. On Friday, tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs attended an Islamist rally in Umm el-Fahm under the banner "Al-Aksa is in danger," organized by the Islamic Movement. "With blood and fire we'll redeem Al-Aksa," Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, told the assembled crowds. Salah has been charged with racism and incitement to violence over a 2007 speech in which he allegedly called for a new Palestinian uprising. A lawyer representing the Islamic Movement told Israel Radio that the case against the Al-Aksa Institute was fabricated.