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Israel Decides to Keep Close Eye on the Islamic Movement in Israel

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Israel has announced it will begin monitoring the activities of an Islamic group that has a large following among Israeli Arabs.

As part of the new campaign, officials plan to probe links between the Islamic Movement and Hamas, Public Security Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said Monday.

The move comes after two Israeli Arabs who carried out car bombings earlier this month in Haifa and Tiberias were linked to the movement.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered the campaign after consulting with his Cabinet ministers Sunday.

The measures include:

Monitoring the Islamic Movement’s activities;

Reviewing the funding sources of institutions linked to the movement; and

Monitoring members of the Islamic Movement who travel to Jordan for gatherings of Islamic leaders.

Officials with the movement criticized the move, saying Israel was punishing the entire Israeli Arab population for the crimes of a few.

Some Israeli security officials said, meanwhile, that the moves did not go far enough.

The Cabinet rejected some of the more severe measures recommended by the police and the Shin Bet domestic security service. These included sealing the home of a local cleric killed in the bombing in Tiberias. Amir Masalha is believed to have recruited the perpetrators of the two attacks in which the bombs apparently exploded prematurely, killing three of the perpetrators and seriously wounding an Israeli woman who was passing by.

The Cabinet also rejected recommendations to close down media linked to the Islamic Movement, including a newspaper and radio and television stations suspected of inciting against Israel.

Ben-Ami, who opposed such a crackdown on the media outlets, said the moderate stance taken by the government reflected its wish to adopt a pinpoint approach to the matter, rather than declare war on all of the Israeli-Arab population.

Police Commissioner Yehuda Wilk denied media reports that police officials criticized the government’s partial acceptance of their recommendations.

“It is not clear to me who the disappointed police officials are,” Wilk told Israel Radio on Monday. “The political echelon made a long list of decisions and we will implement them.

“What was decided yesterday was to demonstrate determination and deal with the sources that led to the situation in which Israeli Arabs went to carry out an attack.

“Our lesson is that we must do everything to prevent this from happening in the future.”

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