Sunday, December 12, 2010

Salah freed from Israeli jail

 AMLA, Israel (AFP) - Islamist leader Sheikh Raed Salah was freed from jail Sunday after serving five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman, a prison spokesman said.

The Palestinian-Israeli leader, who heads the northern wing of the Islamic Movement, was greeted as he left prison in Ramla near Tel Aviv by a crowd of supporters waving the movement's green bunting as well as Palestinian and Turkish flags, an AFP photographer said.

Speaking briefly to his supporters, he stressed he was the victim of "political persecution" for his defense of the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem.

He began serving his term on July 25 after being convicted of assault for an incident in Feb. 2007 in Jerusalem, in which court documents said he insulted a border policeman and spat in his face.

The assault, which Salah has always denied, took place during a protest outside the Dung Gate in the southern wall of the Old City where the Israeli authorities were carrying out restoration work near the mosque.

The compound is the third holiest site for Muslims and the holiest site for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. It has been the scene of several outbreaks of violence over the course of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A Jerusalem court reduced his initial sentence of nine months to five.

Salah has been detained on a number of occasions, most recently after taking part in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla stormed on May 31 by Israeli naval commandos in an operation which left nine Turkish activists dead.

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance for its perceived links with the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other groups around the world.

Israel's Palestinian community numbers 1.3 million, about 20 percent of the population. It is made up of 160,000 Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 establishment of the Israeli state, and their descendants.

Aqsa preacher Salah will continue to defend Aqsa Mosque after his release

[ 12/12/2010 - 09:54 AM ]

UMM AL-FAHM, (PIC)-- Arab leaders are fully geared to warmly welcome Aqsa Mosque preacher Ra'ed Salah upon his scheduled release Sunday morning following a five-month bid in Israeli custody, the Islamic Movement vice-president Kamal Al-Khatib told the Palestinian Information Center.
“Delegations from the Islamic Movement and Arab leaders in the '48-occupied territories will gather near the Ramle prison, where Sheikh Salah is detained, and from there they will proceed toward the city of Umm al-Fahm, where there will be a reception party suitable for the freed Sheikh.”
Khatib said the message Israel wanted to deliver by holding Salah was a failure. “No detention or intimidation can stop our movement and efforts to defend the Aqsa Mosque.”
Salah will not step out of prison for “recovery”, the Islamic Movement VP said, but he will go straight to the work field to defend Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque with the backing of the entire Islamic Movement and Palestinian people in the '48-occupied territories.
We will serve our people and our cause and what we cherish and believe in, even at the expense of our time and personal comfort, he added.
Speaking on warnings by Israeli officials of possible collapsing in the Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem, Khatib said it is an “indicator of the volume of the present risks.”
“The warning does not absolve Israel of its liability, but only reflects that it is informed. They are part of excavations posed against the Aqsa Mosque, along with knowing of threats or intent to harm the Aqsa Mosque by extremist groups, and therefore they are subject to liability.”