The Jerusalem Magistrates' Court on Thursday convicted Sheikh Raed Salah,
leader of the Islamic Movement's northern branch, of incitement to violence. He was acquitted of incitement to racism.
The case against Salah was based on a speech he made at the Mughrabi Gate
near the Temple Mount in February 2007. "Our best moments will be when we meet God as martyrs in the al-Aqsa Mosque," he said in the speech.
The indictment said that the speech constituted a call for and encouragement of violence. According to the indictment, Salah also stated, "The Israeli occupation will be removed, God willing, as others like it were removed in the past."
"You who incite against us, do not be lured by the ranks on your shoulders…those of you who kill more of us get promoted...the streets of holy Jerusalem will one day be purged of the blood of innocents who took the souls of the Israeli occupation soldiers who are occupying the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque." The speech led to riots and the ensuing clashes saw three Border Guard
The State Prosecutor's Office also charged Salah of incitement to racism based on other comments in the speech. "We have never allowed ourselves to knead the bread of the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast with the blood of children. And those of you who want a more detailed explanation, ask what would have happened to some of Europe's children whose blood would have been mixed in the holy bread's dough."
The State claimed that Salah was addressing medieval blood libels that accused the Jews of sacrificing Christian children at Passover to obtain blood for unleavened bread. The defense argued that the statements could also be interpreted as referring to Christianity and were in fact an act of protest for the killing of children during the crusades.
The judge ruled that the statements were not sufficiently clear. She nevertheless ruled that Salah is guilty of incitement to violence for calling for an intifada. She noted that he repeated the words "blood" and "martyrs" throughout his speech and that a state cannot tolerate a call to harm it and its security forces.
Nasi Jujidat, the northern branch's spokesman, said in response: "We do not consider the statements incitement to violence, the sheikh will continue to act against Israeli takeover of the site. We understand the court's decision but it too is part of the Israeli establishment and justice has not been served."
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop