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Lod imam indicted for incitement to violence at Temple Mount

Sheikh Yusuf Albaz charged over a Facebook post and comments supportive of riots; he is currently on trial for similar remarks made a year ago

Sheikh Yusuf Albaz appears for a hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court, on October 28, 2021. (Flash90)
Sheikh Yusuf Albaz appears for a hearing at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court, on October 28, 2021. (Flash90)

Prosecutors filed two indictments on Friday morning against Sheikh Yusuf Albaz, 63, from Lod, charging the imam with incitement to violence.

The Cyber Department of the State Attorney’s Office filed the charges due to Albaz’s public support for rioters who attacked police on the Temple Mount during Ramadan.

Albaz was arrested in April and questioned by police over his positions and “the publication of content… that is suspected of inciting against the security forces, and support for violent disturbances of order, among other things,” according to the police.

The first indictment relates to a post Albaz published on his Facebook account in which he hailed the “young, the brave, the fortified, the people of freedom” who took part in the riots.

“This is the jihadist honor slate, which has crushed the Israeli occupation with blood and prevented it from dividing the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” he added, hailing rioters as “heroes.”

The second indictment related to a speech Albaz made at a conference next to the Great Mosque in Lod, where he allegedly praised the rioters.

“These young people who put on masks and defend the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque with their bare bodies and a few stones, some iron and wood in the face of an Israeli war machine… We should kiss their heads and legs, otherwise, Israel would have emptied the Al-Aqsa Mosque long ago,” the indictment quotes Albaz as saying.

Police are seen during clashes with Palestinians on the Temple Mount, May 5, 2022. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Prosecutors are requesting that Albaz be detained until the end of the legal process, citing the “real and substantial” damage caused by his statements.

“These are provocative statements made by an individual with great influence on a wide range of people, against the backdrop of the tense period we are in, reflected by terrorist attacks across the country during which 19 Israelis have been killed, and serious riots have occurred,” the indictment read.

Albaz is no stranger to charges of incitement. Another trial is being held against him in the Ramle Magistrate’s Court over statements the imam made during Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021.

In one of his posts at the time, Albaz shared a clip from the Australian movie “Wolf Creek” which shows the murder of two police officers, with the caption, “the best way to deal with injustice.”

In another post, Albaz allegedly threatened Lod’s deputy mayor, Yossi Harush. “I suggest that you stop your bullies because your provocation will take us back [to the riots] and you will pay the price for these actions,” Albaz allegedly wrote. “And as for the war you are threatening us with, Yossi Harush, we promise you that we will easily give up our souls in order to teach you to stop your bullying.”

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