UPDATE WITH MORE DETAILS, QUOTES
By AbdelRaouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – An Israeli court on Monday sentenced Palestinian resistance icon Sheikh Raed Salah to 28 months in prison.
Salah has already served 11 months in prison.
Dozens of Palestinians organized a stand in solidarity with Salah before the Israeli court in northern city of Haifa issued the sentence.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Khaled Zabarqa, Salah's lawyer, said that Israel’s endless bids to silence Sheikh Raed Salah were meant to pave the way for announcing the controversial peace plan in the Middle East.
He added that "the charges against Sheikh Salah were related to Friday preaching and articles he wrote in July 2017, in solidarity with Palestinians protesting in front of the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque."
He pointed out that the Sheikh's response to these charges was that "what came in the speeches is based on Islamic law and the Israeli law should not prosecute him for his faith and beliefs."
For his part, Muhammad Baraka, the head of the Higher Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens in Israel, termed the verdict "unfair."
In a statement, Baraka said that the "ruling was prepared in advance, and was based on racist foundations and incitement against Arabs."
He pointed out that the target of the ruling was not only Salah, but also the overall work and political discourse of the Arab masses inside Israel.
The Higher Follow-up Committee is the highest indigenous and representative body for Arab citizens living in Israel who roughly constitutes 21% of Israel's more than eight million population.
In August 2017, Salah was arrested at his home in the city of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel before being convicted on charges of “inciting violence.” He denied the charges.
In February 2018, the Israeli Central Court slapped the Palestinian resistance icon with six months of solitary confinement.
Exactly a year after, the Israeli Supreme Court sentenced Salah to three more months of house arrest, where he has served until now.
Since 2015, Israel has prohibited Salah from traveling outside the country for reasons ostensibly related to “national security”.
The Islamic Movement in Israel, which Salah founded in 1971, has been outlawed by the Israeli authorities since 2015.
In recent years, the authorities have repeatedly arrested Salah and shut down dozens of organizations, including a number of charities, over their alleged links to his group.
*Bassel Ibrahim contributed to this report from Ankara