Jerusalem – Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Israel Islamic Movement’s northern chapter, did not stop smiling yesterday, even when he heard the sentence sending him to nine months imprisonment.

Mr. Salah stood trial in the Jerusalem Magistrates Court and was convicted of assaulting a police officer and taking part in a riot. In the indictment, it was argued that, in February 2007, Mr. Salah led a riot near the Temple Mount to protest the renovation work on the Mughrabi Gate bridge – one of the entrances to the Temple Mount. In the course of the riot, Mr. Salah came up to one of the police officers, spat in his face and said, “You are racists and murderers, you have no honor.”

“The defendant’s actions express hatred and contempt for the people in uniform who represent the rule of law,” stated Judge Yitzhak Shimoni in the ruling, while sentencing Mr. Salah to nine months in prison and a six-month suspended sentence, as well as requiring him to compensate the policeman in the sum of close to (U.S.) $2,000.

“During the police officer’s testimony, the defendant laughed, leaving a very negative impression on me,” he added, and ruled that Mr. Salah would begin to serve his sentence on Feb. 28. Mr. Salah’s defense attorney Khaled Azbarga said that they intended to appeal.

While Mr. Salah heard his sentence, outside the courtroom were dozens of his supporters. When he came out, they gathered around him and shouted: “With our spirit and blood we will redeem the El-Aqsa Mosque.”

Mr. Salah encouraged his supporters, saying: “The court’s ruling doesn’t frighten us.”

Israel Member of Knesset Mohammed Barakeh also came to support the leader of the northern chapter: He laughed out loud and said (congratulations) to Mr. Salah.

“The court’s ruling is political terrorism and legal terrorism against an Arab leader,” sources in the Israeli Arab Supreme Monitoring Committee said yesterday.

The Israel Islamic Movement also reacted dismissively to the ruling: “We didn’t expect justice from the court,” whereas the Balad political party announced that it was siding with Mr. Salah “in the battle against political persecution and against the Israeli occupation measures in Jerusalem.”

Israel Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich said yesterday: “I attribute great importance to the ruling. We will not permit anyone to terrorize the law enforcement agencies.”

Mr. Salah has already spent time in prison. The court sentenced him to three and a half years imprisonment after he was convicted in a plea bargain agreement of contact with a foreign agent and providing service to an unlawful organization. Just three months ago, he was involved in an attempt to provoke a new wave of riots on the Temple Mount but failed due to the low response of the Palestinian public.

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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