THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT INSIDE ISRAEL: An Interview with Shaykh Ra'id Salah

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THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT INSIDE ISRAEL: An Interview with Shaykh Ra'id Salah

On 17 November, the Israeli government announced its decision to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. Under the measure, association, membership, and material support for the group are considered criminal offenses. Additionally, the decision allows Israel to confiscate any property belonging to the movement. Following the decision, Israel closed 17 branches of the movement and searched many of the group’s offices, confiscating computers, files, and cash. The Islamic Movement is officially accused of “incitement” based on its routine accusations that Israel is attempting to change the status quo at Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem.


Israeli officials have been calling for the ban on the Islamic Movement since September, following an escalation of violence in Israel and the West Bank. Two weeks prior to the ban, Israel’s Shin Bet security service announced that there was no intelligence suggesting that the group was involved in “terrorist” activity. However, the Shin Bet did allegedly find evidence that linked the movement to incitement, and therefore suggested that Israel target the group’s funding sources.


The Islamic Movement was founded in the 1970s as an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and it split into the southern and northern branches in 1996 following a dispute on whether to participate in the Israeli Knesset elections. The northern branch has been targeted by Israel since the second intifada, and the group’s leader, Shaykh Ra’id Salah, was imprisoned in 2003 for supporting “terrorism” after providing funding to Islamic charities in the West Bank that were allegedly linked to Hamas. He was released in July 2005 following a plea bargain, but he will soon begin an 11-month prison sentence for allegedly calling for violence against Israel in a 2007 speech.


The following interview with Salah was first published by the Journal in 2007. Conducted by Jamil Dakwar, now director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Human Rights Program, the interview focuses on the foundations of the Islamic Movement and Israel’s crackdown on Salah and the northern branch, providing historical context for Israel’s ban of the movement.


Subscribe to the Journal of Palestine Studies to access the full interview here.

Photo: Members of the Islamic Movement protest in Umm al-Fahm after an attack on a local mosque, April 21, 2014. (Photo Credit: