Israeli authorities are set to charge Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the renowned Palestinian preacher of the al-Aqsa Mosque and head of the Supreme Islamic Committee in Jerusalem, with “incitement to terrorism.”1
The September 2023 motion filed against the sheikh by LAVI, an extremist Israeli organization, was not the first of its kind. It is part of a series of prosecutions against him, the first of which dates back to 1973.
LAVI filed its September motion against the legal advisor of the Israeli government, the Ministry of Justice, and the police, to compel the Israeli Public Prosecutor’s office to file charges against the 85-year-old sheikh, who is the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, for alleged incitement of violence. LAVI claimed that he was involved in terrorist activities and communicating with a foreign agent. At that time, the prosecutor’s office requested a delay in responding to the motion, but last week, the Israeli news site Haredim 10 reported that the indictment will be presented in the upcoming days against the “highest spiritual authority for the Arabs of East Jerusalem.”2
LAVI identifies itself as an organization fighting for the rights of citizens and for good governance in Israel, based on a Zionist vision. On its website, the organization proclaims that it is performing its duties by conducting special investigations, as well as utilizing media and legal means to implement the Zionist vision within Israel’s governance systems.3
In response to the motion passing, lawyers from the organization commented: “We welcome the filing of charges, and we promise to closely monitor his trial until all procedures against him are exhausted,” as reported on Haredim 10.
In addition to this motion, Sheikh Sabri has been facing systematic incitement campaigns against him for many years. The intensity of these campaigns increased after October 7, 2023, as extremist voices calling for his assassination grew louder. This prompted the Supreme Islamic Committee in Jerusalem to issue the following statement on October 9: “We have received information about threats and incitement by settlers to assassinate and eliminate the sheikh.”4