A prominent Palestinian preacher who regularly delivers sermons from the pulpit at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was indicted Thursday for incitement to violence.
Sheikh Khaled al-Mughrabi was arrested last week after videos published on Palestinian networks showed him speaking out against Jews in recent sermons at the mosque, atop the sensitive Temple Mount site.
State prosecutors are seeking to keep Mughrabi in custody until the end of legal proceedings against him, Israel Radio reported.
The indictment comes as Israeli officials have said they will crack down on speech they see as inciting others to violence, amid an ongoing round of Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and security personnel. Israeli officials have pointed to Palestinian incitement regarding a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount as one of the driving forces behind the violence.
A video of Mughrabi delivering a sermon saying that Jews will be “wiped out” was flagged by watchdog group Palestinian Media Watch and sent to police, leading to the preacher’s arrest, according to the Ynet news site.
“We will go after the Jews everywhere,” Mughrabi is seen proclaiming in one video. “They won’t escape us, they won’t be able to escape us. The Children of Israel will all be wiped out.”
The video has since been removed from YouTube.
Mughrabi’s lawyer, Hamza Kutina, said that the sheikh’s statements come from religious texts and do not promote incitement. “[Mughrabi] does not want to incite, and we want to prevent such situations,” Kutina said to Ynet. “It’s true that he is seen speaking in the video, but he says that it was the Prophet who said these things, and they have a source.”
Mughrabi was also questioned by police earlier this year after being videotaped telling worshipers that Jews kidnap non-Jewish children in order to extract their blood. He has claimed Jews control the world’s wealth and use their control of the pharmaceutical industry to spread disease.
A video of some of Mughrabi’s comments earlier this year is below:
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