Israeli Police: Arab Militant Groups Uncovered, Arab MK Accused of Incitement
Police have arrested 41 Israeli Arabs and three Palestinians from the West Bank on suspicion of forming an underground, illegal possession of arms, and conspiracy to attack police and soldiers, Israeli police chief said Tuesday, quoted by The Associated Press. The officer told reporters that an Israeli Arab member of Knesset was involved in the case and would be charged of incitement. Later it was revealed that the MK was Hadash leader Mohammad Barakeh.
Of those arrested, 24 have been indicted, Alik Ron, police chief in northern Israel was quoted as saying at a press conference.
Ron stressed that such cases are unusual among Israel's Arab minority, who are mostly law-abiding. Although most Israeli Arabs support the demand of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for an independent state, the vast majority has not engaged in militant activity against the Israeli authorities.
“It is a long time since such serious nationalist activity with such serious intentions has been uncovered,” Ron said.
The suspects are in two groups, said the AP, both from the northern city of Umm el-Fahm. One group of 12 is held responsible for torching the homes and businesses of Umm el-Fahm Arabs accused of collaborating with the police or the Shin Bet security service, and threatening to kill them if they did not publicly confess.
This group produced homemade zip-guns and fired them for practice, Ron said at a press conference
The other group - 29 Israeli Arabs and three Palestinians - is suspected of illegal trading in arms and unlawful association.
All of the first group and twelve members of the second group have been indicted in the Haifa District Court, Ron said.
The second group was directly linked to a faction of the Israeli Islamic Movement, Ron said, and he had recommended that a criminal investigation be opened against an Arab member of parliament on suspicion of incitement to violence.
He refused to disclose the lawmaker's name, but police spokesman Uzi Sandouri said it was Mohammad Barakeh, head of Hadash, the former communist party, according to the agency.
The Jerusalem Post confirmed in a report Wednesday that MK Barakeh should be investigated for allegedly inciting Israeli Arabs to attack police, quoting a police statement issued after Ron’s presser.
The statement said the decision to identify Barakeh had followed requests from other Arab MKs who felt that they were all under suspicion.
Barakeh will face charges of inciting attacks on police during numerous demonstrations by Israeli Arabs in the north.
Barakeh responded to the accusations by saying, "I don't see myself as suspected of anything, and I work within the law as a public servant. We're victims of police violence, not agitators. Alik Ron will pay publicly for what he said. He'll be thrown out of the police."
According to The Jerusalem Post, Ron caused a stir in May when he publicly criticized some Arab MKs, council heads, and members of the radical faction of the Islamic Movement for leading what he described as a growing wave of extremism. Two weeks later Israeli Arab leaders demanded his dismissal after he shot and wounded an Arab motorist during a car chase, after the driver tried to run down a policeman. Ron was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident.
"There is no doubt that Ron has a tendency to make collective accusations in general, and against Arab MKs in particular," MK Issam Mahoul told the paper Tuesday.
He accused Ron of establishing "an atmosphere of terror," and charged that he is guilty of "McCarthyism."
Ron accused Islamic Movement preachers of delivering inflammatory sermons in the mosques of Israeli Arabs. Islamic Movement Spokesman Hassan Abdel Rahman denied that the movement encourages violence, whether political or of any other kind.
“The Islamic Movement is a legal organization and is not responsible for the actions of any individual who breaks the law,” he told Channel 2 television – (Several Sources)
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