An Israeli court extended the detention of Sheikh Kamal al-Khatib, the deputy head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, on suspicion of incitement and belonging to a terror organization.
He was arrested in the northern Arab town of Kafr Kana last week when violence erupted in Israel's mixed cities.
About 200 people outside the entrance of the Haifa Magistrate’s Court protested his arrest, asserting he is being persecuted politically. Khatib’s driver was arrested during the protest. Public figures, including the mayor of Umm al-Fahm, Samir Mahameed, joined the demonstration.
Khatib’s arrest followed statements he made in the wake of riots at al-Aqsa Mosque on Jerusalem Day. His attorneys deny the charges against him. Members of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee also publicly opposed Khatib’s arrest, calling it an attempt to scare the Arab public. Clashes erupted after his arrest, resulting in the injuries of 28 people, four of them seriously. The Italian Hospital, which admitted 18 people injured during the clashes, stated that most of the patients had suffered gunshot wounds.
Khatib’s attorney, Hassan Tabaja, said after the hearing: “The state asked for eight days but only got four days. If there won’t be a dramatic development, we expect the investigative unit to weigh his release.” He added, “The decision speaks for itself ... and every one of us can understand that the suspicions being raised about Khatib do not necessitate remand.”
The Shin Bet security services commented on the day that Khatib was arrested that he had “used his public status to incite rioters on the Temple Mount and across Israel.” The Shin Bet asserted, “His statements on social networks are popular and encourage demonstrations and disturbances of the peace.” The security sevice added that Al-Khatib has been warned in the past, and was arrested “due to the risk his activity poses to public safety and order.”