Sheikh Raed Salah
Sheikh Raed SalahIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Jerusalem Magistrates' Court sentenced Sheikh Raed Salah to an eight months' prison term Tuesday for incitement to violence. Salah was given an additional eight months' suspended sentence, meaning he could return to jail if he repeats his offense.

Salah was arrested for incitement in September over a call to his followers in which he instructed them to physically prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – Judaism’s holiest site, and the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Shortly after he called on followers to stop Jews “with your bodies,” Muslim men began attacking Jewish visitors at the Temple Mount with stones.

Justice Miriam Lomp noted during the sentencing that "in this case it is impossible to ignore the status of the defendant, a valued and well-known public figure - it's a double-edged sword."

"In his speech, [the Sheikh] repeated the words 'blood' and 'martyrs'," the judge continued. "This stirs passions and incites violence and its explosive potential is cause for serious concern."

"Therefore, I view this incident as more serious than other cases," she stated. "[The] defendant already has a substantial criminal record - four prior offenses, three of which are relevant to this case. He did not take responsibility for his actions or express remorse for them." 

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

The Islamic Movement which Salah heads does not recognize Israel, which it refers to as “Palestine.” The movement is permitted to operate in Israel, which even funds some Islamic Movement schools, but has been banned in Jordan as dangerously radical.