The head of the northern branch of the Palestinian Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, (center) ©AP
The head of the northern branch of the Palestinian Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, has begun a nine-month prison term handed down to him by an Israeli court on charges of “incitement of violence” against the regime.
Salah left the city of Umm al-Fahm, which is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Jenin, in a convoy on Sunday morning and arrived at Ohalei Kedar Prison, located north of the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, Arabic-language Palestine
An Israeli court had initially sentenced the influential Palestinian cleric to 11 months in prison.
The case was brought against Salah after he delivered a sermon in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood near occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem) in 2007, in which he condemned “Israeli racist policies in al-Quds.”
Salah, during that sermon, demanded that Israel stop its restrictions on Muslims to worship freely at al-Aqsa Mosque compound. He also called for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Israeli police then banned him from praying at al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
On April 18, Israel’s so-called High Court of Justice reduced Salah’s original 11-month sentence to nine months.
Salah’s lawyer Omar Khamayseh said that his client “was not afraid of going to prison for something he believes in wholeheartedly, even though going to prison is not something he aspires to.”
“Sheikh Salah has been defending Muslims’ rights to worship and speaking out against Israel’s unjust treatment of Arab citizens in Israel as well as Palestinians in the occupied territories. Israel is making him pay a price for his stances,” he said.
Salah said he was determined to continue his activism despite the prison sentence.
“I will continue upholding and defending al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque even stronger than before, inside and outside my prison cell,” he said.