Israel weighs banning Islamic movement

Monday, November 8, 2004

JERUSALEM Israel has been examining the prospect of banning the Islamic movement.

The Islamic movement has been the most powerful force in Israel's nearly 1 million-member Muslim community and was said to have funneled millions of dollars to Hamas-related activities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Over the last year, the movement has organized huge rallies in support of the Palestinian insurgency against Israel.

"I do not think the decision-makers would support this stupid recommendation," Sheik Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the movement, said.

[On Saturday, at least two Palestinian insurgents were killed in the West Bank city of Kalkilya when a car bomb they were preparing was said to have exploded prematurely, Middle East Newsline reported. In Tulkarm, three Israelis were injured, one of them critically, in a Palestinian ambush.]

"Such a move, if implemented, would certainly not contribute to the already tense relationship between the Israeli administration and its Arab citizens," he said.

"Our movement will find the way to continue its activities in the service of Islam in any way it would see fit." Officials said the commanders of Israel's major security and police agencies have recommended the move. They said Israeli authorities have concluded that the Islamic movement was receiving orders and funding from Hamas and other groups deemed terrorists.

The recommendation has been formally relayed to the Cabinet by Israel Security Agency director Avi Dichter. At a briefing held in late October, Dichter said the northern wing of the Islamic movement was involved in Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilian targets.

Officials said Dichter said the Islamic movement has helped recruit young Israelis for Hamas attacks against the Jewish state. Dichter was said to have cited Israeli Arab involvement in many Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks, including the harboring, supply and transportation of insurgents.

Dichter was said to have recommended the outlawing of the northern wing of the Islamic movement. A key member of the movement, Umm El Fahm Mayor Ra'id Salah has been in jail since May 2004 on charges of being linked to Islamic insurgency groups abroad.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has examined Dichter's proposal to outlaw the Islamic movement. Any recommendation by Mofaz must be approved by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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