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Left-wing activists accused of ‘desecrating’ Palestinian mosque

The imam was fired after villagers criticized the Israelis' immodest clothing.

The left-wing Israelis visiting the mosque in Urif in northern Samaria, July 1, 2023. Source: Twitter
The left-wing Israelis visiting the mosque in Urif in northern Samaria, July 1, 2023. Source: Twitter

A group of left-wing Israeli activists was kicked out of a mosque in Urif in northern Samaria on Sunday, and the imam who hosted them was fired.

A delegation from the Israeli NGO Tag Meir visited the hometown of the two Hamas members who killed four Israeli civilians near Eli on June 20, after residents reported that Jewish vigilantes had damaged the mosque in revenge for the shooting, the Hebrew-language Jewish Voice newspaper reported.

According to the report, a video and photos of the activists inside the mosque caused an uproar in the village because of the activists’ immodest clothing, and in particular that of Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg, associate director in Israel of the U.S.-based, far-left New Israel Fund.

Residents of the village said that Furstenberg had “blasphemed” the mosque and demanded that the imam, Sheikh Kerem Shahada, be fired over the incident. The mosque leader published a video apologizing for the event and said that he had been misled by the village council, which had informed him that it would be a group of journalists. 

He came to the mosque to discover that the group consisted of left-wing Israeli activists whom he called “Jews, infidel settlers.” The imam said that he expelled them from the mosque, although the Tag Meir activists denied that they were kicked out.

“When I came to the mosque, I was surprised that a group from the Jewish side was coming in the clothes you saw,” the imam says in the video.

“Of course, what happened is a sad thing, it is a forbidden thing and it is a shameful thing. And of course I understood the danger of the situation, when I looked and saw them in this way. Allah knows that I did not know that they would come—Jews and settlers and infidels, and I didn’t know anything. We couldn’t stand the situation. I told them, ‘You can’t stay,’ and we kicked them out.”

The video provoked more reactions from the villagers, and on Sunday the imam announced that he had been fired from his position at the mosque.

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