On January 24th, Hamas released a statement blaming Israel for and condemning the assassination of Mohammed Abu Najm a leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement Al-Islamia in the port city of Jaffa.
“We strongly condemn the heinous crime of assassination that targeted the leader of the Islamic Movement in the city of Jaffa, the late Mohammed Abu Najm, in broad daylight,” Hamas said in a statement, Al Quds Arabi reported.
השיח' מוחמד אבו ניג'ם מיפו הוא האיש שנפצע באורח אנוש מירי בעיר.הממונה של התנועה האיסלאמית ביפו,דמות מוכרת ופעיל חברתי שעסק בהתנדבות וסיוע למשפחות pic.twitter.com/IWoTUPPsN8
— sami abed alhamid سامي عبد الحميد (@samiaah10) January 24, 2021
The movement also warned of a “malicious plan” by Israel to liquidate the occupied lands of Palestinian leaders and cadres.
The Times of Israel reported that Abu Najm was shot dead and a second man was moderately injured. This happened when an unknown individual opened fire on them.
The Islamic Movement leader was critically injured in the shooting and died after he was taken to Wolfson Hospital in Holon for treatment.
Channel 12 news reported that the shooting on HaSaba Mishpola Street in the coastal city was being investigated by police as an assassination attempt and that a manhunt was underway.
The northern branch of the Islamic Movement, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, was banned by the Israeli regime in November 2015 due to close ties with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Back in February 2020, Sheikh Salah was sentenced by an Israeli court to 28 months in prison on charges of “fomenting incitement against Israelis and advocating violence.”
He was described as “dangerous” by Israeli judge Shlomo Banjo.
“In light of Sheikh Raed Salah’s previous violations and his clear ideological motives, his activities have worsened with time,” Banjo claimed, adding, “Today, as in the past, he uses troubling speech to incite terrorism.”
Following the verdict, Hamas issued a statement, saying that the ruling “reflects the extremist and racist mentality that governs Israeli institutions, particularly Israeli courts and its judiciary.”
“Such unjust rulings against the Sheikh of al-Aqsa and many of our people in al-Quds, the West Bank and the occupied territories will not stop our people as well as national leaders and scholars from carrying on their struggle, and performing their duties as regards Palestine, its people and its sanctities,” the Palestinian resistance movement said.
Founded in the 1970s, the Islamic Movement is a political organization, religious outreach group and social service provider. The movement split two decades ago — the more moderate southern branch is now part of the predominantly Arab Joint List, while the more hardline northern branch has been outlawed in Israel.
In 2020, 96 Arab Israelis were killed, by far the highest annual toll in recent memory. Many Arab Israelis blame the crisis on police inaction, saying that police do not enforce the law in their cities and towns.
In a meeting with Arab mayors in the week ending on January 24th, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to pass a wide-ranging plan to combat violence and crime in Arab communities, likening the struggle against organized crime to the fight against terrorism.
In the past, Netanyahu has vowed to pass an anti-violence plan. In November, the premier made much the same pledge to Joint List MK Mansour Abbas’s parliamentary committee on violence and crime in the Arab sector.
Netanyahu has recently been campaigning for support from Arab Israelis ahead of the March elections, in a stark about-face from his party’s previous unsubstantiated warnings of electoral fraud in Arab communities and repeated attacks on Arab lawmakers.
As such, his promises are largely empty.
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