An Israeli court on Tuesday ordered the jailing of a firebrand cleric whose Islamist group has been accused of inciting a wave of violence over Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Fresh violence erupted in the evening, with two Palestinians shot dead in the West Bank after stabbing an Israeli soldier.
Raed Salah, the head of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was found guilty on appeal of inciting violence at the holy site in a 2007 speech.
However he has also been on the government’s radar for stoking current tensions over the compound that has led to a wave of anti-Israeli knife attacks, shootings and violent protests.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised last week to ban the Islamic Movement for “wild incitement” of the current attacks.
During the speech in 2007, Salah urged “all Muslims and Arabs (to) start an intifada (uprising) to support holy Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Salah was ordered to present himself to prison officers on November 15.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is in a mostly Palestinian area that was annexed by Israel from Jordan in 1967 and is a powder-keg for tensions in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Clashes erupted at the holy site in September as an increase in Jewish visitors to the site alarmed Palestinians who fear Israel is seeking to change rules which currently forbid Jews from praying at the compound.
Salah’s branch of the Islamic Movement has been accused of financing two Muslim groups, the female Murabitat and male Murabitun who act as self-appointed sentinels at Al-Aqsa, keeping an eye on Jewish visitors and harassing those they suspect of secretly praying.
Both groups were outlawed from the site when tensions boiled over in September.
Clashes at the mosque compound spiralled into a wave of stabbing attacks and shootings that have left nine Israelis dead since October 1. Fifty-eight Palestinians — around half of them attackers — and one Israeli Arab have been killed.
An Israeli Jew and an Eritrean were also been killed after being mistaken for attackers.
In the latest attack, two Palestinians were shot dead Tuesday evening north of the West Bank city of Hebron after stabbing a soldier.
“The soldier was stabbed when forces at the scene approached two suspects at the junction,” the Israeli army said. “Forces responded to the attack with immediate fire.”
Palestinian security officials named the suspected assailants as Ezzedine Abu Shahdam, 17, and Shadi Dweik, 22, both residents of Hebron.
The soldier was taken to hospital in moderate condition.
Amnesty International accused Israel of a series of “unlawful killings of Palestinians using intentional lethal force without justification” in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The rights group said that in at least four cases, “Palestinians were deliberately shot dead by Israeli forces when they posed no imminent threat to life, in what appear to have been extrajudicial executions.”
Also Tuesday 76-year-old American Israeli Richard Lakin, who was shot in the head and stabbed in the chest on a Jerusalem bus on October 13, succumbed to his wounds.
His son Micah Avni Lakin said he had been a big fan of social media, where young Palestinians have incited attacks, uploading videos and sharing the hashtag “#Jerusalemintifada.
“One of the things that comes out of the tragic, horrific event that happened to my father is the need to rethink the way we look at social media,” said Lakin
“To be able to put on Facebook or Twitter specific instructions on how to slice somebody’s chest straight open and cut their intestines, just like was done to my father… is just completely and utterly unacceptable.”
Before he died Lakin’s family put his name on a petition of 20,000 Israelis backing a lawsuit an Israeli NGO filed Monday against Facebook, for failing to remove pages that encourage the killing of Jews.
The surge in violence has prompted an intense diplomatic drive to douse tensions that many fear herald a third Palestinian intifada.
However these efforts have already run into trouble.
Netanyahu on Tuesday called government members to order after deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely stoked Palestinian fears by saying it was her “dream to see the Israeli flag flying” over the holy site, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
Netanyahu’s office reacted swiftly with a statement late Monday recalling his promise to maintain the status quo which allows Muslims to pray at the site, and Jews to visit but not pray there.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu made it clear that he expects all members of the government to act accordingly,” his office said.
Hotovely, from Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party, said on television that Jews should be allowed to pray at Al-Aqsa, but later issued a statement saying: “My personal opinions are not government policy.”
One of the measures agreed in a flurry of diplomatic efforts last week was the installation of cameras at the Al-Aqsa compound.
However Israel and Jordan have locked horns over who will control the installation of the cameras.