Minaret (illustrative)
Minaret (illustrative) צילום: ערוץ 7

Sheikh Kamal Khatib of Kafr Kana has been indicted by the Nazareth District Court, on three counts of incitement to violence, two counts of “publishing praise, sympathy, or encouragement for terrorist activities,” and one count of identification with a terrorist organization.

Sheikh Khatib is 59 years old, and is the second-in-command of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, considered more radical than the Southern Branch. The indictment notes that Sheikh Khatib is a well-known figure who commands a great deal of authority and influence in the Arab-Israeli community, primarily due to this position in the Islamic Movement.

The statements for which the indictment was issued were made in April and May, during the period in which rioting broke out in mixed cities in Israel, in the course of the Guardian of the Walls operation. Attorney-General Dr. Avichai Mandelblit has signaled his approval of the indictment, and the State Prosecution is also seeking to have the Sheikh detained until the conclusion of all proceedings against him.

Khatib runs a Facebook page in Arabic under the name of “Al-Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib,” which has around 166,000 followers. From the beginning of the month of Ramadan, and during the period of the Gaza conflict, when rioting broke out in Jerusalem and mixed Arab-Jewish cities across the country, Sheikh Khatib posted a number of inflammatory articles including several calling for his followers to commit violent and terrorist acts. These articles garnered a large number of “Likes” and were also reposted many times.

On April 19th, shortly after a wave of violent riots broke out in Jaffa, with Arabs confronting police officers and inter-racial violence following an attack on a local rabbi, Khatib published several calls for violence on his Facebook page as well as posts glorifying those committing such acts.

“Jaffa is a source of power. Just as in Jerusalem they are dealing with herds of settlers, so too in Jaffa, last night, there were violent acts against the messengers of destruction. Despite the fact that their police attack every Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim in Jaffa, the brave ones of Jaffa stand firm against them all day long as a counterweight. All blessings and kisses to each one of them. The lions of Jaffa. Jaffa is the ultimate proof of the failure of the Zionist enterprise that aims to obliterate our identity after 73 years since the Naqba of Jaffa and of all of Palestine.”

On April 25th, Khatib posted another article on Facebook in which he praised the terrorists who committed murderous acts in the pogroms of 1929, and called for more such acts to be perpetrated.

On May 11th, after Operation Guardian of the Walls had already commenced, Khatib spoke at a large gathering in Kafr Kana, and his speech was broadcast live on Facebook and later posted on his own page. The indictment notes that following this speech, Khatib was accused of praising, sympathizing with, and supporting the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza and of openly identifying with it. He also praised those who perpetrated acts of violence, saying: “They thought that another generation of retreat and annihilation would arise, and instead they are now surprised that the current generation is teaching them a lesson in Jerusalem – teaching them a lesson in their firm stance on Al-Aqsa – teaching them a lesson in their determined stance in Gaza – this generation! Not a generation of submission but a generation of courage, of heroism, and this is the generation that will get its rights back.”