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Israeli court upholds conviction of influential Palestinian Muslim cleric Raed Salah Open in fullscreen

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Israeli court upholds conviction of influential Palestinian Muslim cleric Raed Salah

His sentence, due to begin in March, was delayed due to the pandemic [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 July, 2020

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On Thursday, he made his first public appearance in three years as he addressed reporters gathered outside Haifa District Court, following his appeal's rejection.

An Israeli court on Thursday rejected an appeal by a Palestinian Muslim cleric sentenced to 28 months in prison for allegedly "inciting to terror".

Raed Salah, the head of the proscribed northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was convicted on incitement charges in November over a series of fiery speeches he delivered after a deadly attack targeting Israeli police at al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied east Jerusalem in 2017.

Salah will begin his prison sentence on August 16.

The attack, carried out by three Palestinian citizens of Israel at the Jerusalem shrine known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, sparked deadly clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

In February, Haifa’s District Court ruled that his 28-month sentence - reduced by 11 months due to his stint in detention after his 2017 arrest - would start in March.

That was however delayed both due to the appeal lodged by Salah's defence team the coronavirus pandemic, according to local media.

The cleric remains under house arrest with tightened restrictions, including being forced to wear an electronic tag and banned from communicating with the anyone except close relatives. 

On Thursday, he made his first public appearance in three years as he addressed reporters gathered outside Haifa District Court, following his appeal's rejection.

"The decision to imprison me carries no meaning to us. We will enter the prison as free men, just like we were free before." he said.

Read more: Israel sentences Palestinian cleric Raed Salah to 28 months in prison

Salah, who once served as the mayor of Umm al-Fahm, a town south of Haifa, is a highly prominent figure among Palestinians in Israel, as well as the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the besieged Gaza Strip.

Salah's organisation, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, counts an estimated 20,000 members. It has gained popularity by running a network of charities, nurseries, health clinics and social services.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the population, have citizenship but suffer widespread discrimination in jobs, housing and social services.

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