Hamas has protested an Israeli court ruling against a senior Palestinian cleric, condemning his conviction as politically motivated.
An Israeli court in occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Tuesday convicted Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement, of "assault" for clashing with Israeli troops in 2007 during a protest against Israeli construction near the al-Aqsa Mosque.
The court sentenced him to five months in jail, a reduction from a nine-month term, which is to begin on July 25.
The Gaza-based Hamas movement condemned the decision as an attempt to suppress the role of the sheikh’s movement and to obstruct his efforts to protect al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israel would hold all the responsibility for the well-being of Sheikh Salah, said the Islamic movement, calling on supporters around the world to voice solidarity with the Palestinian leader and foil Israeli plots against the Palestinian people and their leaders.
Sheikh Salah has been detained on several occasions, most recently after taking part in a Gaza-bound aid Flotilla attacked on May 31 by Israeli forces in a bloody onslaught which left nine Turkish activists dead.
The cleric is renowned for his voiced criticism of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, and has been leading protests against Israel’s construction plans near the al-Aqsa Mosque — the third holiest site in the Muslim world.
The Palestinians have been accusing Israel of plans to demolish al-Aqsa Mosque as part of an effort to remove the Islamic and Palestinian identity of al-Quds, which Tel Aviv occupied during the Six-day war of 1967 and later annexed despite strong international opposition.
They say the move is aimed at judaization of al-Quds, which they have long been demanding as the capital of their future Palestrina state, and effectively ruin the prospect of a feasible Palestinian state.