Leader of the extremist Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raed Salah, began serving a nine-month jail sentence on Sunday following his conviction last March on charges of incitement.
The High Court of Justice rejected his appeal against the conviction, though it shortened his sentence from eleven months to nine for incitement in a 2007 speech.
“If they force me to choose between prison and the surrender of Jerusalem and al-Aksa Mosque, then I will go to jail,” said Salah according to Army Radio.
“I go to jail because of the will of God and not the will of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. It is an honor to me,” he said.
Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “I see this as an integral part of Israeli authorities targeting Arab leaders and Arab activists in recent years and restricting their political actions.”
“Raed’s statements should be protected under freedom of speech,” he said.