(JTA) – An Israeli court sentenced a prominent Islamist leader to 11 months in prison for incitement to violence and racism.
Thursday’s ruling by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s court comes after Sheikh Ra’ad Saleh, the leader of the northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, appealed an eight-month sentence he received last year.
The prosecution charged Saleh in connection with a sermon he delivered in 2007 in Jerusalem, Army Radio reported.
“May the streets of Jerusalem be purified with the blood of the innocent, who shed it in order to separate from their souls the soldiers of the Israel occupation, also in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he said during that sermon.
Last year, the court sentenced Saleh, who has multiple convictions for incitement, to eight months in prison for incitement to violence.
In that ruling, the court acquitted Saleh of the added charge of incitement to racism. In ruling on the appeal on Thursday, the court reversed that finding, and added three months to his sentence for the racism charge.
Avigdor Feldman, Saleh’s lawyer, told Army Radio that Saleh’s statements were “dwarfed” by those made during the recent elections by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, “who refer to Israeli Arabs as a fifth column and their vote as a threat.”
During the 2007 sermon, Saleh also said: “Our finest moment will be when we meet Allah in as martyrs in Al-Aqsa.” A crowd of Palestinian men confronted Border Police troops at the end of that sermon, wounding three of them.
Israel’s General Security Service has accused Saleh’s movement of collaborating with Hamas.