The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Sunday morning sentenced Sheikh Omar Abu Sara to eight months in prison, but the Honenu legal aid organization, which filed the complaint, criticized the ruling as “too little, too late.”
Abu Sara was convicted in March of incitement to violence and incitement to racism during a November, 2014 speech on the Temple Mount in which he prayed for the day that Jews would be “slaughtered” and al-Aqsa would be “cleansed of their filth,” and that Jews are similar to “apes and pigs.”
Judge Samuel Herbst said in his decision that “when I look at the defendant, I see a human. It is a great shame that when he looks at me, he sees an ape or a pig, destined to be mercilessly exterminated.”
Honenu filed the original petition on behalf of Yehudah Glick, a well-known advocate of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, shortly after Glick survived an assassination attempt by a Palestinian terrorist. Glick has since become a Knesset member for the Likud Party.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and MK Glick praised the court decision. “This is the way to fight the ‘inspiration terrorism’ we are experiencing,” Erdan wrote on Twitter.
However, Glick and the Honenu organization also said the sentence did not go far enough given the seriousness of the crime.
“While we are glad the sheikh will be jailed, it is hard to understand why he received a relatively light punishment even though his words have many followers and may have caused the harm of Jews,” Honenu said in a statement.
Abu Sara will start serving his prison term on December 18, 2016. He was also given a suspended sentence of six months if he commits similar offenses within three years of his release. Judge Herbst gave Abu Sara 45 days to appeal the decision.
“Jews and Arabs live side by side in Israel, and this will not change,” Herbst said in his ruling. “The defendant and his ilk inflame constant tension that starts with speeches and ends with the current documentation of children and youth holding knives and directing them to the bodies, flesh, and throats of members of another nation.”
“It is time to stop this incitement, on the internet, in gatherings, and in places of worship,” he added. “These words were written seven months ago when I issued the verdict. Unfortunately, they are still relevant now as much as they were back then.”