An Israeli court has extended the detention of Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, who was charged with incitement to “terrorism” in connection with deadly unrest at a Jerusalem holy site last month.
Salah, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was kept in custody on Wednesday after his bail was denied, his lawyer said.
“The Israeli magistrate court in the northern city of Haifa has decided to extend the detention of Sheikh Raed Salah until the end of his trial,” Khaled Zbarqa, Salah’s lawyer, told Anadolu Agency. “This means that Sheikh Salah will be kept in detention for several months.”
Zbarqa said an appeal against the court’s decision would be lodged.
“It is an unprecedented decision,” he said. “It proves that Sheikh Raed is a prisoner of conscience, tried because of his religious views.”
Salah faces trial on charges of membership of an illegal organisation and inciting violence over a speech he gave last month at the funerals of three Palestinian citizens of Israel who killed two police officers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.
He was arrested on August 14 at his home in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm.
Salah’s group was outlawed in 2015 for alleged incitement linked to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
The charges have been denied by Salah and the Israeli decision to ban the movement remains contentious.
Salah’s arrest was widely condemned by Palestinian leaders in Israel, who say the charges against him are politically motivated.
“I am sure that this is a political arrest,” Mohammed Barakeh, chairman of the Higher Committee for the Arab citizens of Israel, told Al Jazeera last month.
“This is a kind of anti-democratic act to put the Arab population in Israel under pressure,” he said.
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Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies