Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Republic's northern wing, was released Sunday from the Ayalon Prison in Ramla after spending five months behind bars for attacking a policeman.
Some 150 Islamic Movement supporters greeted him outside the prison, chanting "Sheikh Salah is the sheikh of al-Aqsa."
"I would like to thank all those who greeted me and all those waiting for me," Salah said upon leaving the prison. "This demonstrates the power of communication between us until we emerge victorious in al-Aqsa. At a certain stage we'll celebrate the end of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem and al-Aqsa. We continue our activities fearlessly until we fulfill our aspirations."
Salah's deputy, Sheikh Kamal Khatib, told Ynet that "Sheikh Salah's arrest does not threaten our stand, but gives us the courage to defend al-Aqsa against the Israeli government. They are looking for ways to humiliate us at any cost."
Salah began serving his sentence
in July. As he entered the prison, accompanied by hundreds of his supporters, he warned against a regional war in the Middle East, which he said would lead to a third world war used by Israel
to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
The incident he was convicted for took place in February 2007 near the Dung Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Salah and four other Israeli Arabs were indicted for rioting during a protest against digs being carried out near the Temple Mount.
He spat in the face of a Border Guard officer on the site while shouting at him, "You are racist murderers. You have no dignity." An indictment was filed against him that same month.