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Palestinian activist Raed Salah enduring 'psychological torture' in Israeli solitary confinement Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff

Palestinian activist Raed Salah enduring 'psychological torture' in Israeli solitary confinement

Sheikh Raed Salah was sentenced to 28 months in prison. [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 February, 2021

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Sheikh Raed Salah is being held in solitary confinement by Israel and denied family visits.
The leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, has been held in solitary confinement since he was detained in August 2020 in conditions tantamount to "torture", his legal team told media this week.

Khalid Zabarqeh, Saleh's lawyer, told Arabi21 that the human rights activist, who is incarcerated in an Israeli prison in the Naqab desert, is being harshly treated by Israeli authorities and is subject to "psychological torture".

Salah was sentenced in February 2020 to 28 months for "inciting terror" with an appeal in July denied.

His sentence included an 11 month suspended sentence to reflect time already served.

According to his lawyer, all of Salah's time has been spent in solitary confinement and is only allowed out of his cell for one hour a day.

Visits by his lawyer are only permitted once a month and family visits have been halted altogether, under the pretext of the coronavirus pandemic.

Salah is also prevented from communicating with other Palestinian political prisoners. 

Describing his conditions, Zabarqeh said that Salah has "a small cell alone, containing a concrete bed, a toilet, an electric hotplate for preparing food and a small refrigerator, in addition to a small space for his belonging and books".

"Sheikh Raed, 63, is paying a heavy price for his freedom with his psychological and physical health, to preserve and protect the religious and national constants for which he was imprisoned," added Zabarqeh.

In his interview, Zabarqeh accused the Israeli authorities of torturing Salah during his detention.

"Solitary confinement is one of the types of psychological torture practiced by the Israeli prison authorities against Palestinian prisoners, and this contravenes the laws and foundations upon which global human rights are built," said the lawyer.

According to the United Nations, solitary confinement exceeding 15 days is considered to be a form of torture.

In June 2020, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society claimed that the majority of Palestinian held by Israel suffer some form of torture. 

"Detainees are subjected to sleep deprivation through continuous interrogation sessions for up to 20 hours (...) preventing blood circulation from reaching their hands, covering their head with a dirty bag, as well as continuous, beating, slapping, kicking, verbal abuse and intentional humiliation," the group's statement said.

Read more: Israel's demographic battle for Jerusalem leaves Palestinians struggling to survive

Salah is a popular figure among Palestinians and his detention is viewed as related to his activism against Israeli control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

While leading the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Saleh organised bus trips for tens of thousands of Palestinians, across Israel and Palestine, to visit and pray at Al-Aqsa.

He also founded two organisations, Murabitat and the Mourabitoun, that arranged activities at the mosque, which came under scrutiny following hostile protests against Jews who visited the site.

The two organisations were banned by Israel in 2015 claiming they incited violence.

Salah current incarnation for "inciting to terror" is related to a speech that he gave in 2017, in which he praised the "martyrs of Al-Aqsa".

Israeli police claimed he praised the killing of two Israeli officers during an attack at Temple Mount leading to his prosecution, according to The Jewish Chronicle.

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