Court Extends Detention of Israeli Arab Suspected of Incitement to Terror

Raja Agbariyeh was arrested on suspicion of incitement for praising a terror attack on the Temple Mount

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Clashes with Israeli security forces after the attack at Temple Mount, July 2017.
Clashes with Israeli security forces after the attack at Temple Mount, July 2017.Credit: Emil Salman

A man arrested on suspicion of incitement for praising last year’s terror attack on the Temple Mount will be held until Monday, the Hadera Magistrate’s Court decided on Wednesday.

Raja Agbariyeh, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, is suspected of incitement to violence and terror and support for a terrorist organization over his posts on social media. 

Agbariyeh is a leading activist in the Sons of the Village movement, which calls for boycotting Knesset elections. He opposes Israel’s existence and calls for creating a single secular state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

At Wednesday’s hearing, police presented classified information as well as some of Agbariyeh’s social media posts. In her ruling, Judge Hadasa Asif commented on an Arabic-language poem that was part of a longer post marking the one-year anniversary of the July 2017 attack in which three Umm al-Fahm residents killed two policemen on the Temple Mount before being killed themselves. One line in the poem spoke of “strewing bullets at the doors of Al-Aqsa.”

Agbariyeh in the court, September 12, 2018.

Asif wrote that this poem alone showed “why there are grounds for the suspicion police raised that this post as a whole expresses a kind of solidarity with, praise for and support of the three men’s acts of violence.” Additional evidence was the fact that Agbariyeh called the three “martyrs,” she said.

Agbariyeh argued that his posts don’t justify the police’s suspicions, and that they are protected by freedom of expression. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, an umbrella organization representing the Arab community, called his arrest “political persecution.” Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said it would appeal the decision to hold him until Monday.

In the July 2017 attack, the three Umm al-Fahm residents opened fire at a group of policemen at the entrance to the Temple Mount, killing two Druze policemen – Hael Sathawi, 30, of Maghar and Kamil Shnaan, 22, of Hurfeish, the son of former Labor MK Shachiv Shnaan. Two days later, police stationed metal detectors at the entrance to the Mount, sparking a wave of Palestinian protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank that led the government to remove the detectors a week later.