In an Al Jazeera documentary on the Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara, it is claimed that Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Israeli-Arab Islamic Movement, was the target of an attempted assassination during the raid.
[In the adjacent clip, an activist on board the ship displays a laminated guidebook carried by IDF commandos for the purpose of identifying passengers on the ship.]
AJ commentary: Meanwhile, a recording surfaced [from Cultures of Resistance] that appeared to suggest that some activists had been deliberately targeted in advance of the raid.
Durmus Aydin, Vice Chairman, IHH organization said: “In the pictures there were picture of the Raed Salah. Instead of killing Raed Salah, they killed other one. They’ve killed another people who looks like Raed Salah. And then Raed Salah said that when they killed that guy, the soldier was telling the others, ‘We finished off Raed Salah’.”
Shortly after the Freedom Flotilla was attacked, rumors circulated that Sheikh Salah had been critically injured, hospitalized or even killed. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that he had suffered only minor injuries.
It has been widely reported, however, that during a hearing shortly before his release at the Ashkelon Magistrates’ Court, Salah stated, “The [Israeli] soldiers tried to kill me. They shot in the direction of someone they thought was me.”
Born in 1958 in the city of Umm al-Fahm in the Haifa area, Salah was known for his poetry before becoming involved with the Islamic Movement.
Today, the Islamic Movement in Israel acts on three tracks: religious, social and national. In 1989, the party decided to participate in municipal elections for the first time. Sheikh Salah succeeded in being elected mayor of Umm al-Fahm that year, and was re-elected to the position twice during the 1990s.
A long-time advocate of the right of return for Palestinian refugees, Sheikh Salah has non-violently protested against the Israeli occupation for decades. His primary focus has been on reinforcing and rebuilding destroyed mosques throughout Israel, and more specifically, protecting the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Israeli authorities have arrested Sheikh Salah on numerous occasions for his promotion of Palestinian human rights.