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Palestinian arrested with soldier’s knee to his neck is convicted of incitement 

Khairi Hannoun signs a plea deal admitting to posting material linked to the outlawed PFLP terror group

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration against Israeli settlement expansion in the village of Shufah, southeast of Tulkarm in the West Bank, on September 1, 2020. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)
Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration against Israeli settlement expansion in the village of Shufah, southeast of Tulkarm in the West Bank, on September 1, 2020. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

A Palestinian man who made headlines last month after an Israeli soldier was filmed kneeling on his neck, in a manner reminiscent of the killing of George Floyd in the US, has been convicted in a West Bank military court of incitement and publishing symbols of an illegal association.

Khairi Hannoun, 65, was arrested for what the Border Police called “participating actively in a number of riots” and for incitement on social media, referencing five posts on his Facebook account. He was rearrested two weeks after his initial arrest went viral.

Hannoun signed a plea deal and was sentenced Wednesday to a month and a day’s imprisonment, conditionally suspended, and a fine of 1,000 NIS ($291), the Haaretz daily reported.

His Facebook posts, the most recent of which from late June, feature praise for terrorists as well as a picture of Hannoun holding a sign of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, deemed a terrorist organization by the EU, US, Canada, and Israel.

Israeli soldiers detain Palestinian Khairi Hanoun during a protest against expansion of Israeli settlements in the village of Shufah in the West Bank, September 1, 2020. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

Sahar Francis, director of the Palestinian NGO Addameer, which provided Hannoun with legal council, called his arrest “clearly political” and said that it had to do with the fact he had filed a complaint against the soldier who was recorded kneeling on his neck.

“Social networks have become a means of control and repression, instead of a way to allow freedom of expression. All Palestinian human rights defenders who oppose the occupation suffer from similar harassment,” she said, according to Haaretz.

Francis also decried what she called a “lack of options” for Palestinian defendants in Israeli military courts. She claimed that they are forced into signing plea agreements due to lengthy proceedings that often take longer than the actual sentences handed down by the courts.

After his highly publicized first arrest, Khairi Hannoun told the official Palestinian Authority WAFA news agency that he was protesting attempts by Israeli settlers to expropriate land near the Palestinian village of Shufa outside of Tulkarem when he was grabbed by a soldier and knelt on. The Israeli military denied wrongdoing but said it would investigate the incident.

In video shot from the scene, Hannoun is seen standing and holding his arms out in front of soldiers, when one officer suddenly grabs him and wrestles him to the ground.

Khairi Hannoun confronting an Israeli gendarme during protest against expansion of Israeli settlements in the village of Shufa in the West Bank, September 1, 2020.(AP/Majdi Mohammed)

The soldier eventually pushes Hannoun into a prone position on the ground and is seen placing his knee on Hannoun’s neck for a full minute while handcuffing him.

“What the occupation soldier did to me was the height of criminality… He didn’t care about my advanced age, he pressed his leg with all his might against my head and neck,” Hannoun told WAFA.

While Hannoun told WAFA he had been peacefully protesting, the former security prisoner and father of five from the village of Anabta told the Associated Press that the scuffle began when he pushed a soldier who had aimed his rifle at the protesters.

The Israel Defense Forces said that Hannoun, an activist in the Popular Committee to Resist The Wall and Settlements, was “well-known as a central instigator and participant in many violations of public order in Judea and Samaria.”

The Popular Committee is responsible for several protests across the West Bank, including a weekly protest at Kufr Quddum, which regularly ends in violent clashes between protesters and Israeli soldiers.

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