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'I'll maintain my right to defend Al-Aqsa Mosque,' insists Shaikh Raed Salah

The head of the Islamic Movement in Israel has insisted that his detention by the government will not stop him from defending Al-Aqsa Mosque, Al-Resalah reported on Friday. "I will leave prison with even more determination to defend the Holy City of Jerusalem," said Shaikh Raed Salah.

An Israeli court found Shaikh Salah guilty of "inciting violence" and sentenced him to 9 months in prison. He made his comments on the eve of being imprisoned, as his sentence is due to begin today, 7 May. He denied the charges against him, claiming that they are the government's way of trying to stop him from defending Al-Aqsa Mosque.

"Prison strengthens me due to my faith that Jerusalem is a pure right for Muslims and defending it is imperative," he told Al-Resalah, noting that the Israeli aggression will accelerate "the end of the occupation" of the Holy City. "I will continue [defending Al-Aqsa] until martyrdom. No retreat, whatever the price is. The Islamic Movement [which was banned in November last year] is not a simple name, but it has its roots in Galilee, Negev and Al-Aqsa Mosque."

The veteran campaigner added: "If there is a real name for terror and racism, it will be [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the occupation. They have carried out field executions against innocents."

Shaikh Salah explained that Israel wants to push the Islamic Movement to bow down and subjugate the Palestinians in Israel in order to break down their defence of Al-Aqsa Mosque. "We will not, however, concede our right to defend the Noble Sanctuary."

He called for all Palestinians, wherever they are, to continue their fight against the Israeli occupation until it retreats. "The Palestinians," he stressed, "will not give up fighting the Israeli aggression and confronting it until they achieve their goals."

He reiterated that the name and strength of the Islamic Movement is getting bigger in the hearts of Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians. "Detention orders and expulsions make us closer to victory and give us more strength."

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