Israeli media reported earlier this month on the sentencing of Sheikh Ra’ad Salah for assaulting a policeman and taking part in a violent demonstration. According to a Haaretz report:
The leader of Islamic Movement (Northern Branch), Sheikh Ra’ad Salah, was sentenced to nine months in prison yesterday for assaulting a policeman and taking part in a violent demonstration in February 2007 near the Temple Mount. The Islamic Movement was demonstrating against renovation work in the area. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled that Salah had spit in the face of a border policeman, Yigal Zinger, telling Zinger: “You are racist murderers. You have no honor.” Salah had refused to cooperate with proceedings in the trial. He and his lawyer have said the real criminal act was the work done at a holy site, which included construction of an earthen ram p leading up to the mount. In the sentencing, Judge Yitzhak Shimoni said he had the impression that Salah’s intention “as he expressed it himself, was to harm not only the policeman but all that he represented regarding the law and its maintenance, as well as the State of Israel itself, which as far as [Salah] is concerned is the real criminal.” The judge said there are limits to freedom of expression and that Salah’s “violent conduct, in violation of the law, by attacking a policeman who symbolizes the rule of law” is not protected by law. Shimoni also said Salah’s laughter during Zinger’s testimony was held against him. In addition to the jail term, Salah was sentenced to six months’ probation and must pay NIS 7,500 in compensation to Zinger.
Sheikh Raed Salah is the head of the Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, considered to be the most extreme wing of the movement that essentially comprises the Muslim Brotherhood in Israel. In May 2003, Salah was arrested along with other Northern Islamic Movement officials on suspicion of transferring funds to Hamas under the pretense of humanitarian aid. He was released after two years under the terms of a plea bargain. In August 2007, Salah was indicted for “inciting racism and violence” for calling for a “third Intifada,” or uprising, to defend the mosque and in 2008 Israeli security forces raided the offices of the Islamic Movement in northern Israel accusing it of aiding Hamas. In May of this year, Salah said that Israel has a ‘diabolical plan” to cause the Al–Aqsa Mosque to collapse “in a way that would appear as is happening as a result of natural causes, such an earthquake.”