Firebrand Arab Israeli Islamic cleric released to house arrest
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Firebrand Arab Israeli Islamic cleric released to house arrest

Court rejects state’s appeal against release of Raed Salah, who is awaiting trial on charges of incitement to terror for praising attackers who killed policemen at Temple Mount

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

A leading Arab Israeli Islamist cleric, who has repeatedly been arrested for fomenting violence, was released to house arrest Friday after nearly a year in jail on charges of incitement to terror.

Sheikh Raed Salah’s release came after the Haifa District Court rejected an appeal by the state for his continued detention. As a condition of his release, Salah will be subject to electronic monitoring and other restrictions.

Salah, a leader of the banned Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was greeted by chants of “Allahu akbar” — Arabic for God is great — from supporters as he exited the court.

The cleric, a resident of the northern city of Umm al-Fahm, will stay in the Arab town of Kafr Kanna during his house arrest. Residents of the town waved green Islamist flags to celebrate his release.

Salah was ordered released Thursday by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court, a decision the state appealed but was upheld Friday by the district court.

Salah was arrested and charged in August for praising three Arab Israelis who shot dead two police officers in an attack at the Old City of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount compound last July. The attack, and Israel’s ensuing decision to beef up security at the holy site, significantly ramped up tensions between Israel and the Arab world.

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

He has previously been convicted on a number of occasions for terror charges and last January was released from prison after serving a nine-month sentence for incitement to violence and racism.

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