Imad Barghouthi, a Palestinian astrophysics professor
An Israeli court has sentenced a Palestinian astrophysics professor to seven months in prison on charges of “incitement” of violence through posting anti-Israeli comments in social media.
The Ofer military court announced its verdict against Imad Barghouthi, a renowned professor at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis in the occupied West Bank, on Sunday, several months after he was first arrested.
The 54-year-old astrophysicist was nabbed on April 24 at a West Bank checkpoint near the village of Nabi Saleh, west of the city of Ramallah, while he was travelling to his hometown Beit Rima. He was originally ordered an administrative detention without charge or trial.
His detention, however, sparked outcry by hundreds of scientists and academics around the world, denouncing Barghouthi’s arbitrary detention by Israel. Tel Aviv, under pressure, ordered to end his administrative detention on May 26 and his final release three days later.
Instead of release, Barghouthi was transferred to a military court, where army prosecutors leveled "incitement" charges against him and opted to put him on trial for his posts on Facebook.
The professor of theoretical space plasma physics was also given a fine of 2,000 shekels ($525).
Barghouthi was also detained in 2014 and placed under administrative detention for some time over unknown charges.
More than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in some 17 Israeli jails, many of them arbitrarily.
Palestinian detainees have continuously resorted to open-ended hunger strikes in an attempt to voice outrage at the so-called administrative detention policy, which is a form of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months.