Thousands of Israeli Arabs Protest Ban On Islamist Radicals

UMM EL-FAHEM (Reuters/Hamodia) -

An estimated 15,000 Israeli Arabs protested the outlawing of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch for playing a central role in stoking Palestinian street attacks.

Police did not say how many people attended the protest held in the northern Arab town of Umm el-Fahem. A Reuters photographer said there were about 15,000 demonstrators in what was one of the largest Arab rallies in Israel in recent years.

The Islamic Movement’s northern branch does not, unlike its southern counterpart, recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and its leader was recently sentenced to 11 months in jail for incitement to violence.

But Israel says the movement has encouraged Palestinian assaults on Israelis by falsely accusing the government of trying to erode Muslim control of the al-Aqsa mosque complex.

Protesters marched through the town’s streets holding up Islamic Movement and Palestinian national flags, chanting: “With our spirit and blood we shall redeem you, al-Aqsa.”

Local police reported that the demonstration ended without any violent incidents. Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the end by several young men at the inner square without causing injuries or property damage.