An Israeli court has sentenced a Palestinian astrophysics professor to seven months in prison on charges of “incitement” of violence after posting anti-Israeli comments on social media.
Dr Imad Barghouthi, a renowned professor at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, was sentenced at the Ofer military court on Sunday after being arrested in April for posting about Palestinian politics, Israeli military attacks and occupation.
His imprisonment will be calculated from the date of his arrest meaning that he should be released in November.
Barghouthi’s case is one of the more prominent cases among hundreds where Palestinians are targeted for arrest for posting on social media, in particular, Facebook.
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.