Israeli police have detained and released a leading member of the Islamic Movement, a Palestinian group, accusing him of inciting violence.
Sheikh Raed Salah was arrested during clashes between Palestinians and police in the neighbourhood of Wadi Joz in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem on the third day of intermittent violence in the city.
However, a Jerusalem [al-Quds] court on Tuesday ordered Salah’s release several hours later, but on the condition he not enter Jerusalem for 30 days in an attempt to maintain a tense calm.
Salah said on Wednesday after his release: “I affirm that expelling me from al-Quds will have no negative impact on me and will not weaken my will, because al-Quds will always remain in our conscience, our hearts and will remain the basic case of our lives, along with its sanctities, mainly the holy al-Aqsa mosque.
“Despite any decision issued against myself regarding al-Quds or al-Aqsa mosque case, I will always maintain my right to enter al-Quds city and al-Aqsa mosque at any time I choose without asking for anyone’s permission.”
Shmulik Ben-Rubi, an Israeli police spokesman, said Salah was arrested for making “inflammatory statements in recent days and on suspicion of incitement”.
Several Israeli ministers have called for Salah’s arrest and for the outlawing of his wing of the Islamic Movement, which boycotts Israeli parliamentary elections out of a refusal to recognise an exclusively Jewish state of Israel.
His organisation runs several Israeli Arab town councils.
Tensions in Old City
Tensions have run high in Jerusalem since Sunday after authorites closed the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the
Old City, claiming people were inciting violence. Clashes broke out, with seven Palestinian protesters injured and three arrested.
On Tuesday, some 2,000 police officers deployed in strength across Jerusalem as an annual Jewish march
took place. But no incidents have been reported.
Speaking on Tuesday, Silvan Shalom, the Israeli deputy prime minister, told public radio that “the battle is under way for sovereignty over Jerusalem and particularly over the Temple Mount”.
Temple Mount is the Jewish name for part of the al-Aqsa mosque compound.
But Saeb Erakat Senior, the principal Palestinian negotiator, accused Israel of deliberately escalating tensions in East Jerusalem, warning that it was like “lighting matches in the hope of sparking a fire”.
“What makes this all the more dangerous is the vacuum created by the absence of a credible peace process that offers hope instead of more settlements on Palestinian land,” he said.