Israeli court jails Islamic Movement leader

Published Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An Israeli court sentenced firebrand Islamic preacher Sheikh Raed Salah Tuesday to eight months in prison for inciting Muslims to violence over Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque.

Salah, leader of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in occupied Palestine, was convicted in November of inciting "all Muslims and Arabs" in 2007 to "start an intifada (uprising) to support holy Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aqsa mosque."

In addition to the eight-month sentence, Salah will serve a further eight months if he repeats the same felony within three years, according to a court document.

Salah, who was born in the northern city Umm al-Fahm in 1958, is no stranger to run-ins with the authorities.

In 2011, he was arrested at the Allenby border crossing between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan after allegedly striking a member of the security forces who wanted to question his wife.

The previous year, he spent five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman.

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its perceived links with the militant Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other Islamist groups worldwide.

The 2007 offense took place during a demonstration against Israeli construction work near the al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem's Old City, and Salah's speech was followed by clashes during which a number of Israeli policemen were injured.

Fighting between police and Palestinians is frequent at the compound, which sits above the Western Wall plaza and houses the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque, and is Islam's third-holiest site.

It is also Judaism's holiest place, being the site of the first and second Jewish temples.

Demands by Jewish extremists to be allowed to pray there are perceived in the Muslim world as attempts to "Judaize Jerusalem."

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

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