Sheikh Raed Salah accused of incitement: “this trial is only about the…defense of Al-Aqsa Mosque”

Sheikh Raed Salah is being accused of incitement via “sympathy, support and praise” for Palestinian resistance, labeled as “terrorist” by the Israeli occupation, according to an indictment filed in the Haifa District Court by the Israeli Public Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday, 24 August. Salah, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and leader of the Islamic Movement in occupied Palestine ’48, is renowned for his outspoken defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque from various Israeli occupation projects intended to change its character or undermine its existence.

Despite the highly public and political nature of the case, the judge banned filming in the court in Salah’s case, stating that “the case does not concern the public.” Salah has been arrested on multiple occasions and was released in January 2017 after being imprisoned for nine months on charges relating to a sermon he delivered in Jerusalem in 2007; he spent most of his imprisonment held in solitary confinement and was threatened with extended sentencing before release. Israeli occupation officials have also been involved in attempts, including in the United Kingdom, to deny Salah an international platform for advocacy. He has been subjected to repeated travel bans by the Israeli state. He has also been repeatedly barred from entering Jerusalem itself.

His detention has been repeatedly extended since he was seized by Israeli forces on 15 August who invaded his home in Umm al-Fahm. “The judicial grounds for this case are trivial. In reality, this trial is only about Sheikh Raed’s defense of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the slogan, Al-Aqsa is in danger,” said his lawyer Khaled Zabarqa.

Salah is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Palestine ’48; in 2015, the Israeli state banned the Islamic Movement in an action condemned by Palestinian organizations across the political spectrum as an attack on all Palestinians in ’48 Palestine, who hold Israeli citizenship.