Israeli authorities indicted a prominent Palestinian activist on Thursday on charges of “incitement to terrorism” and “expressing solidarity with a terrorist organisation”, reported Haaretz. The decision to indict was slammed as “political persecution” by The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee.
Haifa District Prosecutor’s Office also extended the detention of Raja Agbariyeh, a 66-year-old resident of Umm al-Fahm, until 2 October. He was first arrested on 11 September.
According to the indictment, “between July 2017 and July 2018, Agbariyeh published posts in which he expressed solidarity with a terrorist organization, incited and supported terrorism”.
In one of the Facebook posts cited in the indictment, Agbariyeh marked the one-year anniversary of a July 2017 shooting by three residents of Umm al-Fahm outside Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by wondering whether the incident brought “news of a new phase inside 1948”.
The indictment also states that Agbariyeh published videos that documented the shooting.
In another cited post, Agbariyeh posted photos of George Habash, founder and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, marking the anniversary of his death.
According to Haaretz, “Agbariyeh argued that his posts don’t justify the police’s suspicions, and that they are protected by freedom of expression”.
Agbariyeh has previously served as general secretary of the Sons of the Village movement, and as a member of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee.
Attorney Hassan Jabareen, director of Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, that represents Agbariyeh, told Haaretz “that there is a policy that clearly discriminates between Arab political activists and Jewish ones on the right or extreme right”.
“According to Jabareen, there wasn’t even one case in the past year in which the state filed an indictment and a request for arrest until the end of proceedings for social media posts”, the paper continued.
“There is a clear change in policy in the prosecution and attorney general’s office with regards to freedom of expression of political leaders and activists in the Arab community”, he said.