Israeli police have arrested the prominent Palestinian leader Sheikh Raed Salah on suspicion of incitement.
According to Israeli media, the arrest was made after Salah, who’s head of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, allegedly accused Israel of trying to torch the Al Aqsa Mosque and the wider Arab world during a speech last week in Kfar Kara in the Galilee.
Salah was arrested on Tuesday at the Anava interchange.
Sources close to Salah said he urged Palestinians to protect Al-Aqsa and highlighted plans which he believed were underway to break into Al-Aqsa and take control.
The Friends of Al Aqsa organisation said his speech followed a statement by an Israeli police commander who said police forces would not restrict Jews from trespassing within the Al-Aqsa sanctuary.
According to Friends of Al Aqsa, in recent months the number of times extremist settlers and other Israelis have trespassed onto the holy site has increased dramatically. While such visits are underway, Palestinians are barred from access, including children who undertake school classes within the site. Those Palestinians who seek to defend the site have faced attack and arrest.
In response to the arrest, Arab Knesset member Esawi Frej said that his party were against all forms of his incitement but that the arrest demonstrated a double standard in Israel between Arabs and Jews.
“It appears that democracy in Israel is much less tolerant to comments made by Arabs as compared to those made by settlers and rabbis. If the police had arrested rabbis saying similar things, the prison cells would be full long ago.”
Sheikh Raed has faced multiple arrest by the Israeli and even the British authorities.
In April 2011, he was detained for interrogation on suspicion of attacking police officers at the Allenby Bridge, connecting the West Bank to Jordan.
In 2010, he was released from prison in Ramle after serving a five-month sentence. He also served two years in Israeli prison on charges of funding Hamas.
Salah took part in the 2010 Gaza Flotilla, sailing on the Mavi Marmara, and was present during the raid by IDF naval commandos that left 9 Turkish citizens dead.
Last year he won an appeal against the British government after it arrested, detained and tried to deport him.
The Upper Immigration Tribunal said that Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision to detain him was “entirely unnecessary” and that his appeal had succeeded “on all grounds.”
The court also said that his arrest was also unconstitutional, after Home Secretary May deemed that his presence in the UK was “not conducive to the public good.”