The leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, was rounded up by Israeli police at dawn Tuesday from his home in Umm al-Fahm.
Israeli police said in a statement issued Tuesday morning that Special Forces stormed and searched Sheikh Salah’s house before taking him for investigation on suspicion of incitement as well as support of and activity in an “outlawed” group.
He was arrested following a joint investigation between police and the Shin Bet, which was conducted at the behest of Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the statement added.
The statement said that since the Islamic Movement was outlawed, Salah spoke to the public and published a series of statements in the media regarding the Movement’s views.
The Islamic Movement was outlawed by Israeli authorities in 2015. Ever since, Israeli authorities had shut down dozens of organizations, including a number of charities, over their alleged links to this group.
Sheikh Salah was arrested more than once by Israeli authorities, most recently was in May 2016 after which he served nine months behind Israeli bars under the same pretext of “inciting violence.”
To protest his prison conditions, which included solitary confinement, Sheikh Salah had declared an open-ended hunger strike.
Sheikh Salah was born in 1958 in the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm and later studied Islamic Law at the University of al-Khalil in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
He served as mayor of Umm al-Fahm for three consecutive terms between 1987 and 2001.
In 1996, Sheikh Salah was elected leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement within the Green Line, known for holding daily protests in defense of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, against perceived threats to the iconic Mosque by the Israeli authorities.