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Israel police release Islamist preacher on bail

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Israel on Wednesday released a firebrand Arab-Israeli Islamist preacher on bail, a day after arresting him over "incitement" against the Jewish state, a police spokeswoman said.

(Sheikh) Raed Salah was sent home "after accepting the conditions of his release," Luba Samri told AFP.

Salah had refused, during an initial appearance in court on Tuesday, to pay a fine and bail of 50,000 shekels (10,500 euros, $14,000) and to stay at least 30 kilometres away from Jerusalem for 180 days in return for his release, Samri said.

A second court session was scheduled for Wednesday morning, but Salah agreed to the conditions before it took place so the hearing was called off, Samri explained.

A spokesman for Salah confirmed "the Sheikh was at home" in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm.

The hardline cleric had been on his way to the Holy City to hold a press conference at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa compound when he was detained for questioning on Tuesday.

The arrest was over "incitement against Israel and issues regarding the Temple Mount," police said giving the Jewish name for the compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Police clashed with rock-throwing Palestinians on Wednesday at the site, arresting seven, a statement from police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The Al-Aqsa compound, which lies in Jerusalem's Old City, is a flashpoint because of its significance to both Muslims and Jews.

It houses the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques and is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Jews worship at the bottom of the Western Wall, venerated as the last remnant of wall supporting the Second Temple complex, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and considered Judaism's holiest site.

Jews are not allowed to pray inside the compound.

Salah heads the radical wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel and is no stranger to run-ins with the authorities.

In 2011, he was arrested at Allenby border crossing between Israel and Jordan after allegedly striking a member of the security forces who wanted to question his wife.

The previous year, he spent five months behind bars for spitting at an Israeli policeman.

He was also held after taking part in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that Israeli naval commandos stormed on May 31, 2010 in an operation that left nine Turkish activists dead.

A spokesman for the Islamic Movement described Tuesday's arrest as a "failed move" by Israel to "keep away those who love the Al-Aqsa mosque so the Jews can have it for themselves and build a temple".

The Islamic Movement is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its perceived links with the militant Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, as well as with other Islamist groups worldwide.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130904/israel-police-release-islamist-preacher-bail