Sheikh Salah gets 9 months in prison for assault
Leader of northern branch of Islamic Movement in Israel, who was convicted of disturbances, assaulting police officer, sentenced to additional six months probation. Judge writes in conviction: 'This is hefty punishment in order to make clear to convicted gravity of offences he committed’
Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel who was convicted of assaulting a police officer and partaking in violent riots, was sentenced on Wednesday to nine months in prison and another six months probation in Jerusalem's Magistrates’ Court.
After the sentencing, Salah said: "We reject the court's ruling. It doesn't frighten us. We will continue to have the occupation removed from al-Aqsa."
Judge Yitzhak Shimoni wrote in the verdict: “This is a hefty sentence in order to make clear to the convicted the gravity of the offences he committed.”
Salah was also ordered to pay the officer he spit on NIS 7,500 (about $2,045).
The judge detailed the events leading up the trial and leveled harsh criticism at Salah for his conduct in court.
“These disturbances took place during the refurbishing of the Mugrabim Ramp. The disturbances deteriorated and led to the ugly act of spitting in the face of an officer. There are accepted limits to the freedom of expression. Attacking an officer is not covered within these. The defendant was a dominant figure in the incident. He led those gathered there and served as an agitator.
“During the trial, the defendant did not express any remorse. He and his counsel accused the police and the Jewish establishment of disturbances and placed the blame on the Israeli occupation. I flatly reject these claims. While the police officer was giving his testimony, the defendant laughed. This is inappropriate.”
Upon leaving the court, dozens of supporters waited to greet Salah. They shouted slogans such as, “In blood and spirit, we will redeem al-Aqsa."
MK Mohammad Barakeh (Hadash) also arrived at the courthouse. After the sentence was handed down, he said: “This is a political trial and a political sentence. I was surprised by the unprecedented punishment that was made through non-legal considerations.
"East Jerusalem is occupied territory and does not belong to the State of Israel. The police officer was in a place that does not belong to him, and he has no jurisdiction in that area. There is racism and violation of the freedom of religion and worship. The police raided a place of worship.”
Salah's attorney Khaled Azabarga said, "We are not at all please, the court lacks all authority to rule in any matter pertaining to al-Aqsa. The court represents the Israeli occupation, which is illegal according to international treaties as well.
"The mosque is an occupied site, and this verdict is null and void. What we said is not the power of the law, but the brutality of the law. We are studying the verdict; we will make an educated decision in consultations with Sheikh Salah."
Before the sentence was read, Salah said in Arabic, “The Israeli occupation continues its crimes in Jerusalem.” He will start serving his sentence on February 28, at the end of 45 days granted to him to appeal the sentence.
Indictment: Spat in officer’s face
The said incident occurred in February 2007 near Dung Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City. Salah, together with four other Arab Israelis, was convicted for violently rioting against the digs being carried out near Ma’aleh Mugrabim, near the Temple Mount. At a certain point, he spat in the face of a Border Guard officer stationed on the site and shouted at him: “You are racists and murderers. You have no dignity.”
Salah and his partners also tried to enter into the work site. They cursed, shouted, and shoved.
“The police stood in a line in order to prevent a break-in,” the indictment described. “The defendant approached one of the officers, attacked him while he was on duty, spat in his face, and shouted at him.”
Judge Yitzhak Shimoni ruled that he found “reliable testimonies from the police officers who testified what had happened that corroborated the security videotapes on location as well as images of the event from police cameras situated on the Temple Mount.”
This week, the police issued a ban against Sheikh Salah from entering Jerusalem. This is the third extension issued by the Home Front commander on the matter. The newly issued ban will be in effect until July.