Court orders Islamic cleric accused of incitement released to house arrest

Court orders Islamic cleric accused of incitement released to house arrest

Implementation of order put on hold for a day while prosecutors appeal against letting Raed Salah out of jail

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, arrives for a court hearing at the Haifa Magistrate's Court on February 26, 2018. (Flash90)
Leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, arrives for a court hearing at the Haifa Magistrate's Court on February 26, 2018. (Flash90)

The Haifa Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday ordered that a controversial Islamic cleric held for months on charges of incitement to terror be released to house arrest, undoing an earlier decision by the same court that ruled he be held until the end of proceedings.

Sheikh Raed Salah, a leading member of the now-outlawed Northern Branch of Israel’s Islamist Movement, has been in custody since his arrest in August. The court on Wednesday was responding to an appeal by Salah against his detention.

The court delayed implementing his release to house arrest until an appeal by prosecutors is heard at the Haifa District Court on Thursday.

The conditions for Salah’s house arrest would include electronic tagging and a NIS 20,000 ($5,720) bond. He would also prohibited from using the internet and cellphones, being interviewed by the media, conducting public presentations, giving sermons and leaving the country, Channel 10 news reported.

Security footage released by police on July 20, 2017, shows the three terrorists behind the Temple Mount shooting at the site the morning of the attack. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Following his arrest last year, prosecutors charged Salah with incitement to terror for, among other things, praising three Arab Israelis who shot dead two police officers in July just outside the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem.

At the funeral of the three men who carried out the attack, Salah, 64, praised them as “martyrs” and asked for “God to have mercy upon them.”

The three, who, like Salah, were from the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm, shot dead the police officers using guns smuggled by an accomplice into the Temple Mount complex.

The indictment also accused Salah of supporting a banned organization and described how he published on his personal Facebook account, on different occasions, posts calling for violence or terror, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

His detention until the end of proceedings was approved by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court in response to a request by prosecutors. In October the Haifa District Court rejected an appeal by Salah against the detention.

Following the July shooting attack, Israel shut down the Temple Mount to Muslim worshipers before reopening the site two days later after installing metal detectors at entrances to the holy site. In response to the placement of the metal detectors, Muslim worshipers boycotted the Temple Mount until their removal.

Israeli police clash with Palestinian protesters during a protest against metal detectors that were placed at gates to the Temple Mount, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on July 19, 2017 (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

In addition to daily protests outside the Old City, anger over the move also sparked violent clashes between police and demonstrators, with five Palestinians killed in clashes. Tensions at the site were also cited by the Palestinian terrorist who stabbed to death three members of the Salomon family during Shabbat dinner at their home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish.

As part of the indictment, prosecutors charged Salah with an additional two counts of incitement to terror for speeches he gave encouraging the violent clashes surrounding the Temple Mount.

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