Serial Inciter Ra’ed Salah Sentenced to 28 Months in Prison

YERUSHALAYIM -
Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, arrives for a court hearing in Haifa, on Monday. (Flash90)

Three months after his conviction, Ra’ed Salah, the former head of the radical Northern Islamic Movement, was sentenced to 28 months in prison. Salah was convicted in November of fomenting incitement against Israelis, advocating violence and praising murderers.

Salah has been tried numerous times in Israeli courts on incitement charges. The current case against Salah involved speeches he gave in 2017, in the wake of Arab riots on Har HaBayis. He gave a series of incendiary speeches, accusing Israel of “taking over Har HaBayis.” Among the instances of incitement was a speech he gave at the funerals of the three murderers of Israeli police officers Ha’il Satawi and Kamil Shanan, who were killed in the Har HaBayis terror attack in July of that year. The terrorists were given a mass funeral in Umm el-Faham, where they lived, replete with anti-Israel slogans, Palestinian flags, and speeches inciting Arabs to commit more acts of terror, many of which were presented by Salah, police said.

Previously, Salah had been arrested and jailed for incitement in October of 2015, as tensions rose in Yerushalayim. Salah was accused of spreading rumors and inciting Arabs over the supposed Israeli “takeover” of Har HaBayis at that time as well. As a result of that incitement, the state charged, Salah inspired dozens of Arabs to carry out terror attacks against Israel. The Movement, said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was one of the three “pillars,” along with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, of incitement against Jews and Israelis.

Salah was jailed again in 2018 after he advocated attacking Jews who went to the Kosel, encouraging his followers to throw rocks and riot. “We are aware of attempts by Salah to fuel tensions on Har HaBayis ahead of Pesach,” Netanyahu said at the time. “He is a one-man powder keg. I request that security officials and the justice minister take action to keep him away [from Yerushalayim]. He should be in jail already.”

After Monday’s sentencing, Salah told reporters that “all the charges against me are lies, everything they claim I said is far from the truth. I don’t know where they got this information about me, the only thing I can think of is that someone wrote down incorrect information and presented it to the court as my comments.”

Hundreds of people came to support Salah, including Hiba Yazbak, who on Sunday got the green light from the High Court to run for the Knesset, after the Central Elections Committee banned her. Yazbak told reporters that she had come “because Sheikh Salah is a victim of political persecution. I will continue to work on behalf of the public in important areas.” Regarding the court decision allowing her to run, Yazbak said that “we said from the beginning that this decision was expected, although there is no evidence against me. We always said that this was part of the delegitimization and demonization against Arab MKs and Arab society.”

In a social media post, Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman said that if Yazbak really wanted to support Salah, “I would recommend that she accompany him to prison to help carry out his sentence. In this instance, justice has been done, but unfortunately, that was not the case in the court decision on Yazbak.”