State moves to block appeal by convicted Islamic Movement leader

Sheikh Raed Salah turns to Supreme Court in hopes of avoiding 11-month jail sentence for incitement to violence

Sheikh Raed Salah, right, in the Jerusalem District Court on October 14, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Sheikh Raed Salah, right, in the Jerusalem District Court on October 14, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The state prosecution on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to reject a request by a controversial Islamic leader to appeal a jail sentence he was handed earlier this year for incitement to violence and racism.

Raed Salah turned to the Supreme Court in the hope of also delaying the start of his jail time, but the court was asked to reject the request as the matter had already been debated in the Jerusalem District Court.

Salah, 57, leads the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, a recently outlawed organization that rejects the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians and boycotts national elections on the grounds that they give legitimacy to the institutions of the Jewish state.

Salah was sentenced earlier this year to 11 months in prison for incitement to violence and racism over an inflammatory sermon he delivered in 2007 in Jerusalem. He has previously served terms for similar offenses.

During the 2007 sermon, Salah expressed hope that “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 further said that “our finest moment will be when we meet Allah as martyrs in Al-Aqsa.”

Israel banned the radical Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement on November 17, charging it with links to terrorist groups and inciting the recent wave of violence, which has seen almost-daily stabbing and shooting attacks by Palestinians and some Israeli Arabs for over two months.

After the security cabinet declared the movement illegal in a late-night meeting, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon signed an edict banning any activity connected to the group.

Israeli security forces then carried out a series of overnight raids on the organization’s offices, seizing computers, documents and cash in regional branches across the country, the Israel Police and Shin Bet security agency said. Police also froze bank accounts linked to the organization and a number of NGOs working alongside it.

In total, 17 regional branches were ordered closed, including offices in Umm al-Fahm, Jaffa, Nazareth, Kfar Kana, Turan, Beersheba and Rahat.

AFP and JTA contributed to this report.

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