Leaders of Israel's Islamic Movement cleared from ”terror charges”
An Israeli court has dropped so-called "terror charges" against five Islamic Movement leaders in return for them pleading guilty for lesser and largely trivial charges pertaining to giving humanitarian assistance to impoverished Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The five, including former mayor the Israeli-Arab town of Um al Fahm leader Sheikh Ra'ed Salah, were arrested in mid 2003 for what the Israeli authorities then termed "helping a terrorist organization," a reference to Hamas.
Salah dismissed charges, accusing the Israeli state of launching a "witch-hunt" campaign against the Islamic movement in Israel for supporting the Palestinian cause and giving humanitarian help for poor Palestinian families.
According to the plea bargain agreement, Salah will still serve additional six months, while some of his colleagues will be freed.
His lawyer said the 47-year-old leader agreed to the plea-bargain after he despaired of Israeli justice. "He understood that Israel is not the place to seek justice for non-Jews." The lawyer said the Israeli state dealt with Salah and his colleagues in the Islamic movement "by way of deception."