Palestinian associations in 1948 Palestine were closed by Israeli police and Shin Bet agents on Thursday, 6 October in a series of raids in Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm. The associations allegedly are linked to the northern Islamic movement, the Palestinian religious and political organization banned nearly a year ago by Israeli officials. The leader of the Islamic Movement is Raed Salah, currently imprisoned and well-known for his advocacy in defense of Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as his participation in the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza.
Palestinian organizations across political lines condemned both the banning of the Islamic Movement and the raids on the community organizations and media institutions. The four Palestinian entities forcibly shuttered on Thursday were the Higher Commission to Support Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa, Q Press in Umm al-Fahm, the Midad Psychometry Institute and Al-Medina newspaper.
The Higher Arab Follow-Up Committee labeled the attacks “a new sign of a systematic scheme to suppress the rights of the Arab community, a repression that applies to all walks of life…We renew our rejection of the decision to ban the activities of the Islamic Movement, and at the same time warn of the danger of the use of the Islamic Movement’s activities as a new pretext to suppress even more freedoms and silence the voice of the Arab people, who are fighting against the Israeli racist policies targeting our presence on our ancestral land.”
The Al-Alam media association denounced the closures and raids on Al-Medina, Q Press and other institutions and the confiscation of their computers, linking the raids to an ongoing escalation against Palestinian organizing in 1948 Palestine, among Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, in particular the campaign of arrests and harassment targeting the National Democratic Assembly (Tajammu’/Balad party).
The Freedoms Commission of the Higher Follow-Up Committee said that “these three institutions, added to the 23 already prohibited, are independent institutions that provide a variety of services for our people…How can an institution like the Midad Psychometry Institute to qualify students for exams, which tutors thousands of secondary school students, contribute to conflicts over Al-Aqsa Mosque? How can the fact that 69 students of the Midad Institute were admitted this year to study medicine in Israeli universities be a cause of conflict over the Al-Aqsa Mosque?” The statement noted the ongoing attacks on the National Democratic Assembly and the investigations targeting Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka, as well as the 104th demolition of the village of Al-Araqib and the displacement of its people on the same morning of 6 October as reflections of one policy. “This government has declared outright war on the Palestinian people inside, taking advantages of the wars in the region to implement its plans against our people in our homeland, and the Palestinian people in general,” said the statement.
The suppression of Palestinian political activity among the Palestinians of ’48 (who hold Israeli citizenship, and constitute 20% of the population of the Israeli state) is nothing new; in the first 20 years of occupation, from 1948 to 1966, Palestinian citizens lived under martial law which in many ways served as the precursor to the present-day scheme in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Since that time, the banning and violent suppression of Palestinian political activities, as well as the targeting of Palestinian political leaders for arrest and imprisonment, has not ceased. From the Al-Ard movement prohibited in the 1950s, to the Land Day protests against land confiscation met by Israeli fire, to the killing of Palestinians at the launch of the second Intifada – not to mention the imprisonment of prominent Palestinians like Salah, Said Naffaa, Ameer Makhoul and others, and the targeting of cultural workers like Dareen Tatour, the Israeli state has been firmly committed to the suppression of Palestinian existence and political organizing in 1948 Palestine. These acts of political repression accompany ongoing land confiscation, racism and discrimination, defunding of communities and institutions and over 50 racist laws targeting Palestinian existence on their land.