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Shin Bet shuts Nazareth offices of Hamas-linked group

Islamic organization reportedly monitors Jewish activity on Temple Mount, tries to prevent ‘Jewish domination’ of compound

Illustrative photo of Israeli police on the Temple Mount. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of Israeli police on the Temple Mount. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

Israeli security personnel forcibly closed the offices of Amara al-Aqsa wa al-Muqadasat, an Islamic institution located in the Israeli Arab city of Nazareth.

The offices were shut down last Wednesday in a joint operation with the police following an internal recommendation by the Shin Bet, the security service said in a press release Thursday.

Amara al-Aqsa wa al-Muqadasat was outlawed by the Defense Ministry in August after intelligence revealed that the institution was responsible for starting a spate of riots at the Temple Mount and was cooperating with Hamas personnel in Jerusalem.

The institution was founded in Nazareth in 2009 by the Islamic Movement in Israel, a religious organization based in the so-called Triangle, a region that is heavily populated by Arabs.

The Shin Bet said that Amara al-Aqsa wa al-Muqadasat’s goals were to maintain a permanent Islamic presence on the Temple Mount and was alleged to be monitoring Jewish activity in the area and trying to prevent “Jewish domination” of the compound.

The Temple Mount, which holds the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, is considered the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest site to Jews as it was the location of the two ancient Jewish temples.

By law, under arrangements Israel instituted after capturing the area in 1967, Jews are not allowed to pray at the site. The Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem is currently the sole religious authority at the compound.

The Temple Mount is often the site of violent clashes between Israeli Border Police forces and Palestinians.

The Shin Bet maintained that the activities of Amara al-Aqsa wa al-Muqadasat undermined “the safety of visitors and undermined the security of the compound.”

The statement, however, emphasized that the closure of the offices was “not meant to harm, in any way, the Muslim religious activity on the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque.”

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