Sheikh Raed Salah, Palestinian leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, began a nine-month jail term for “incitement” on Sunday, 8 May. He arrived at the jail with dozens of supporters, and said that “this prison sentence will not deter us from maintaining the defence of [Jerusalem’s] Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Since 1996, Salah is the leader of the northern wing of the Islamic Movement, which organizes Palestinian citizens of Israel. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the movement banned last year, sparking widespread protest and condemnation. Salah has been imprisoned in the past for incitement and related charges; this imprisonment is related to a 2007 rally against Israeli construction work near Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Salah arrived for his sentence at Beersheba prison, and was then transferred to Nafha prison by Israeli occupation forces. He has repeatedly stated that his imprisonment is an attempt to shut down Palestinian defense of Al-Aqsa from attacks by settlers and the Israeli government.
He served as mayor of Umm al-Fahm between 1987 and 2001. In 2010, he participated in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara, the ship attacked by Israeli special forces who killed ten Turkish and American activists, as the armed forces took over the ship and prevented it from breaking the siege of Gaza.
In 2011, Salah was targeted during a visit to the UK for deportation and exclusion. Arrested in the UK, he was kept in the country until March 2012 fighting the charges, which he eventually defeated in a significant court victory.