Israel arrests hardline Arab leader: police

AFP , Tuesday 22 Feb 2011

Israeli police arrested Raed Salah, an Islamic Movement leader

Israeli police have arrested hardline Arab Israeli Islamist leader Sheikh Raed Salah for an alleged act of arson, police said Tuesday.

Salah, who heads the radical wing of the Islamic Movement, was released from jail in December after serving a five-month sentence for spitting at Israeli policemen during a protest.

On Tuesday, Salah was arrested in Jerusalem "for questioning over an incident two weeks ago in which he allegedly set fire to several trees," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

The incident occurred in southern Israel, where Saleh allegedly set ablaze a eucalyptus grove to protest a tree-planting project by the Jewish National Fund, Israeli media reported.

Salah has been detained on a number of occasions, most recently after taking part in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla stormed on May 31 by Israeli naval commandos in an operation which killed nine Turkish activists.

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance for its alleged links to the militant Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other Islamist groups around the world.

Israel's Arab community numbers 1.3 million, about 20 percent of the population. It is made up of 160,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 establishment of the Israeli entity and their descendants.

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