Israeli police and the Shin Bet domestic security agency on Monday closed two Muslim charities suspected of channelling funds to finance “terror”, a police statement said.
It identified the institutions as Muslim Women for Al-Aqsa, in annexed east Jerusalem, and Al-Fajr in the Arab city of Nazareth in northern Israel.
They were suspected of financing “organisations which identify with Hamas” and encouraging activists to confront visitors to the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a site sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
Jews are allowed to enter the compound itself, but are forbidden from praying there for fear of triggering tensions with Muslim worshippers.
Ultra-nationalist Jews regularly visit the esplanade where they can be seen discretely praying in a move which can draw jeers and stone-throwing from the Muslims, which have in the past snowballed into fierce clashes with police.
“The charities… are suspected of paying activists who go every day to the Temple Mount and when groups of visitors arrive they use verbal and even physical violence against them, in a manner that threatens the personal safety of the visitors and strikes at religious freedom,” the police said.
The statement said police removed computers, documents and bank records from the two offices and detained for questioning an undisclosed number people suspected of “financing terror, money-laundering… and tax offences.”