Israel sentences Palestinian cleric for provocative sermon against Jews
The preacher, Sheikh Omar Abu Sara, was delivering his sermon at the famous Al-Aqsa mosque. Photograph: (Getty)
An Israeli court today sentenced a Palestinian Islamic preacher to eight months in prison for a provocative sermon he delivered against Jews at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque in 2014.
The preacher, Sheikh Omar Abu Sara, was found guilty of 'incitement to violence and racism' by the Jerusalem magistrates' court in March this year, the AFP reported.
In the sermon which was also uploaded on YouTube, he calls Jews "treacherous, stubborn, murderous, rude and shameless, monkeys and pigs."
"I'm telling Jews explicitly - it's time to slaughter you, time to fight you, time to kill you," he said, according to a transcript of the speech in the court decision.
He vows Muslims will "free this land from your filth, and that day is approaching".
Omar Abu Sara has denied the accusations contending that his statements were "general and non-binding" and based on scriptures and teachings.
The court, however, rejected that argument and said most of the sermon was not quotes but original statements by Abu Sara made to "humiliate and degrade Jews" and "preach Jew-hatred to the other worshippers".
The Islamic Waqf organisation, which administers the Al-Aqsa compound, told AFP it was not aware of a preacher there by that name.
The sentencing will begin on December 18 and Abu Sara has 45 days to appeal the verdict.
The sermon came at a time of massive unrest over perceived Jewish attempts to take control of Al-Aqsa, third-holiest site in Islam.
The Jews refer it as Temple Mount and consider it their most sacred site.
Tensions in the West Bank increased after a Palestinian teenager was murdered in July for killing three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank. The killings were part of the violence that led up to the 2014 war between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.
The Jewish holidays in October see a rise in Jewish visitors to the site, and authorities are bracing for an increase in violence in and around east Jerusalem.
AFP says 230 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, one Jordanian, an Eritrean and a Sudanese, have been killed in the violence since last October.
Analysts say the unrest has been fuelled by account of Palestine's efforts to oppose the Israeli settlement in the West Bank, lack of peace efforts and their own fractured leadership.
Israel says incitement by Palestinian leaders and media are the main causes for violence. It says the Palestinians were killed while carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks. Others were shot dead during protests or killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza.
(WION with inputs from AFP)