Following his rise to notoriety during the most recent war in Gaza (Operation Guardian of the Walls), the Imam of Lod, Yussuf Al-Baz, has continued to incite against Jews and the State of Israel, leading to his arrest on Thursday.
The arrest follows a complaint submitted against Al-Baz by MK Itamar Ben Gvir (Religious Zionism), prompted by a video that Al-Baz posted on his Facebook page in which he appeared to call for the perpetration of violent acts against Israeli police officers. The video shows a civilian viciously attacking two police officers and killing them – by setting the vehicle in which they are sitting on fire. Due to the graphic and brutal nature of the video, it is not being posted here.
Next to the video, Al-Baz wrote, “Be with me. The best way to deal with injustice.”
After learning of the post, MK Ben Gvir submitted a formal complaint to the State Prosecution, alleging incitement to violence and terrorist attacks on the part of the Imam.
“We’re not talking about a minor provocation, but rather incitement at the most serious level against police officers,” Ben Gvir stated. “Such incitement is liable to cause deaths and we have to stop it before it’s too late. Sheikh Al-Baz belongs in prison. Israel Police should open an investigation against him and bring him to justice.”
Indeed, on Thursday, Al-Baz was arrested and charged with media incitement, and police are expected to request the extension of his remand.
Responding to the news of his arrest, MK Itamar Ben Gvir said: “I am delighted that the police have responded to my request. This first step – the arrest of this ‘spiritual terrorist’ – is to be welcomed. Now we have to make sure that justice is done and he is put in prison – and also ensure that he does not continue with his incitement against Jews from behind the prison walls.
“I will continue to fight against incitement to terrorism and against terrorists who come in a spiritual guise,” Ben Gvir added. “They do not deserve a single moment of peace.”
Also responding to the news of the arrest was the “Ad Kan” (Up to here and no further) organization, which said in a statement: “We submitted a complaint against the Sheikh yesterday, to the Lod police department, and we welcome the fact that Israel Police has responded so swiftly … We will continue to monitor and issue warnings to police and other relevant parties of any terrorist activity we learn of, especially that aimed against police, soldiers, or Israeli citizens.”
Ad Kan also noted that they have already compiled an entire dossier of material related to the Al-Omri mosque where Al-Baz is imam – material that reveals the mosque as having been a base of incitement during the Guardian of the Walls campaign, encouraging Lod’s Arabs to commit violent acts and challenge the rule of law.
Meanwhile, the video posted by Al-Baz remains online for all to view – thus far, Facebook has not taken it down.