JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Arab Israeli Muslim leader, seen by Israel as a powerful voice stoking Palestinian anger over a Jerusalem holy site, was ordered jailed for 11 months on Tuesday for comments he made in 2007.
Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement’s northern section was convicted for incitement to violence in 2013, the Justice Ministry said, charges he denied. His attorney said he would appeal against the sentence.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will seek to outlaw the Islamic Movement’s northern section, which he says has been encouraging attacks by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs in a wave of violence that began on Oct 1.
The Islamic Movement has said all its activities are lawful.
Palestinians are angered over what they see as Jewish encroachment at the al-Aqsa mosque compound. The shrine is the third holiest in Islam and the complex is revered in Judaism as the site of two destroyed biblical temples.
“Prison will not scare us and we will continue to defend the Aqsa mosque,” Saleh told reporters at the court, where supporters had gathered, some of them chanting “with souls and blood we redeem you, Aqsa.”
The Jerusalem District Court upheld a previous court sentence, appealed by both Saleh and the prosecutors who said that in 2007, during a sermon in East Jerusalem, Saleh had evoked anti-Semitic imagery dating back to the Middle Ages.
Saleh has previously been imprisoned in Israel for scuffling with police near al-Aqsa and being convicted of sending money to needy Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, which Israeli prosecutors said was to be used by anti-Israel militant groups.
The Islamic Movement, which runs its own Islamic educational and religious services, has been at the forefront of protests against Israeli government policies toward its Arab minority and Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Netanyahu’s bid to outlaw the organization could be shot down by legal experts and the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, has said the move could end up sparking further violence.
Omar Khamayseh, Salah’s lawyer, said the Sheikh was to begin his prison sentence on Nov. 15.
Writing by Maayan Lubell; editing by Richard Balmforth