Israel Orders Islamic Movement Official to Remain in Custody Over Remarks on Jerusalem Violence

Jack Khoury
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Sheikh Kamal Khatib in court in Nazareth last week.
Sheikh Kamal Khatib in court in Nazareth last week.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Jack Khoury

The deputy head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel has been ordered to remain in jail for the duration of the legal proceedings against him.

Sheikh Kamal Khatib was charged May 25 with incitement to terrorism, incitement to violence, publicly praising acts of terror and affiliation with a terrorist organization, for remarks he made after violence erupted at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque May 10 and spread to mixed Arab-Jewish cities in Israel.

“A progressive democratic society that desires life must draw clear lines for what is permitted and what is forbidden,” wrote Nazareth Magistrate’s Court Judge Doron Porat in his ruling, issued Tuesday. “Freedom of expression is not freedom to incite and provoke.”

Porat said his ruling was based on Khatib’s status and influence in Arab society, and the fact that the incitement attributed to him was posted on Khatib’s personal Facebook page.

Khatib compared the rioting in Jerusalem to attacks on Jews in 1929, and wrote, “Those days are returning and the events are similar, when Jewish gangs, first and foremost the Lehava gang, call to come to Jerusalem from all the Jewish cities to invade Al-Aqsa – and facing them is the steadfastness of the heroes of Jerusalem and the confrontation with them.”

He also wrote, “The fact that events are passing to the cities of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is a victory for Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa. It emphasizes our exclusive rights in the region, and the Jews have no right to even a single grain of earth.”

Hassan Jabareen, a lawyer and the director of Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is representing Khatib, together with attorneys Hassan Tabajah and Omar Khamaisi. “The weak evidence submitted in the indictment hasn’t even a hint of calls to violence, let alone support for terror, which the prosecution is basing solely on the love the sheikh expressed for the residents of Gaza,” Jabareen said in response to the ruling. This extreme step has no rational link to the danger they are trying to ascribe to Sheikh Khatib, which is why we will appeal to the district court immediately.”

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