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Israel: Palestinian citizens condemn arrest of senior Imam

Sheikh Yousef Al-Baz [qudsn/Twitter]
Sheikh Yousef Al-Baz [qudsn/Twitter]

The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel (HFC) has condemned the arrest of the Imam of the Grand Omari Mosque in the city of Lod at dawn on Thursday. Sheikh Yousef Al-Baz's arrest, said the committee, is part of "an organised campaign targeting political and leadership figures."

Approximately 1,800 activists have been arrested by the Israeli authorities over the past few weeks, the committee explained. "The aim is to intimidate the masses and deter them from claiming their legitimate political and civil rights."

The arrest of Sheikh Al-Baz came less than 24 hours after Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir sent a letter to the Director of the Investigations Unit for Special Missions in the police service, Shlomi Abramson. The latter spoke during a Knesset inquiry this week and denied in front of Ben-Gvir that complaints have been received against the Imam. Ben-Gvir's letter was, apparently, used as the excuse for the arrest of Sheikh Al-Baz.

"Ben-Gvir is a follower of Meir Kahane, a known terrorist in his day, and leads the bloody incitement campaigns against our people," said the committee. "This indicates the extent to which the illegal Kach dogma has infiltrated the corridors of Israel's regime."

READ: Israel court delays release of Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib

A senior member of the committee, Muhammad Kanaana, was also arrested for allegedly inciting the public to confront the gangs of Israeli settlers who took part in the far-right "Flag March" through Jerusalem earlier this week, led by Ben-Gvir. Video has emerged on social media exposing the disgraceful racism and hatred of the marchers, many of them children. "All of this took place under the protection of the occupation armed forces and with the direct approval of the government," the committee pointed out.

The HFC confirmed the belief that the days of military rule within Israel have returned. "It looks as if the intelligence agencies are the real government of this country," it added.

The President of the committee, Muhammad Baraka, concluded by saying that, "The masses will not be intimidated by these campaigns. They will confront them, and remain steadfast on the path of resistance and strife in the face of the oppressors."

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