Middle East

Israeli police detain firebrand Arab leader

A file picture taken on May 16, 2013 shows Arab-Israeli Islamist leader Sheikh raed salah speaking during a press conference in Jerusalem. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israeli police on Tuesday detained a firebrand Arab-Israeli Islamist preacher for questioning over "incitement" against the Jewish state, a spokesman said.

"(Sheikh) Raed Salah was arrested a short while ago by Israeli police on his way to Jerusalem," Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

"He was arrested in connection with incitement against Israel and issues regarding the Temple Mount" he said, giving the Jewish name for the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Rosenfeld said the detention was linked to a speech Salah made in northern Israel last week.

He was on his way to Jerusalem to give a news conference at Al-Aqsa Tuesday when he was arrested.

The hardliner heads the radical wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel and is no stranger to run-ins with the authorities.

In 2011, he was arrested at Allenby border crossing between Israel and Jordan after allegedly striking an interrogator who wanted to question his wife.

The previous year, he spent five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman.

He was also held after taking part in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that Israeli naval commandos stormed on May 31, 2010 in an operation which left nine Turkish activists dead.

A spokesman for the Islamist Movement described Tuesday's arrest as a "failed move" by Israel to "keep away those who love the Al-Aqsa mosque so the Jews can have it for themselves and build a temple".

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its perceived links with the militant Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other Islamist groups worldwide.

The Al-Aqsa compound, which lies in Jerusalem's Old City, is a flashpoint because of its significance to both Muslims and Jews.

It houses the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques and is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Jews worship at the bottom of the Western Wall and are not allowed to pray inside the compound.





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