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'In Any Normal Country You'd Get A Life Sentence'

Att'y Ben-Gvir confronts Sheikh Salah outside court, after sheikh sentenced eight months for inciting violence on Temple Mount.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 3/4/2014, 5:17 PM

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir
Flash 90

A harsh confrontation broke on Tuesday afternoon between Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, and attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir. The two came face to face in front of the Jerusalem court that gave Salah an eight month sentence for incitement to violence.

Salah had called a press conference outside the court after his trial to respond to his sentence, which was decided given Salah's call on Muslims to stop Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, "with your bodies." The call last September was quickly heeded as Muslims began stoning Jews at the site.

Ben-Gvir stepped out of proceedings at the same court, where he was confronted by the press conference.

The attorney approached the conference, shouting at Salah and his supporters: "terrorists, in any normal country they would send you all for life sentences, enough of this legal helplessness and the State Attorney's policy that gives you an easy time."

Salah's supporters tried to push Ben-Gvir and intimidate him, shouting "it's our country, get out of here, the day will come when all the Jews will not be here." However, the attorney would have none of it, as Ben-Gvir pushed back and stood firm. Police arrived at the scene and dispersed the crowd.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Ben-Gvir noted "the result of the policy that lets Salah and his people off easy is their desire to kick us all out of the state of Israel."

"Where is (State Attorney) Shai Nitzan and those running the rule of law in his office that run to submit indictments against my clients, demanded a severe punishment, but when its inciters against the state and people of Israel they're suddenly powerless," remarked Ben-Gvir, who regularly defends Jews from Judea and Samaria in court.

Salah's Islamic Movement does not recognize Israel; nevertheless, it is permitted to operate in the country, which even funds some Islamic Movement schools. The movement has been banned in Jordan as dangerously radical.

A history of violence
The sheikh was sentenced to eight months suspended sentence in addition to the eight months of active jail time, meaning that if he repeats the office his prison time could be doubled. His incitement against Jews has been part of a general upswing in violence at the Temple Mount, which Shabak (Internal Security) has warned is being manipulated by Hamas. Salah's Islamic Movement is believed to have ties to Hamas.

During the trial, Justice Miriam Lomp noted Salah used the terms 'blood' and 'martyrs' in his inciteful speech. He has a long history of run-ins with the law: in 2011 he was arrested at the Allenby border crossing after hitting a member of the security forces. A year prior, he was in jail for five months after spitting at an Israeli police officer.

Last year Salah labeled Israeli leaders “terrorists” and “enemies of Allah” in a speech to Muslims in Be’er Sheva.