Police to Free Ra'ad Salah Today

Three prominent Israeli Arab figures who were arrested during Monday's raid on the Gaza aid flotilla are set to be released this morning from police custody.

Israel Police official said yesterday they will not recommend prosecuting Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement; his southern branch counterpart Sheikh Hammad Abu Daabes; or the head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, Mohammed Zaidan. The men were arrested on board the Marmara along with Free Gaza movement member Lubna Maasra.

On Tuesday Ashkelon Magistrate's Court Judge Dina Cohen approved a request from police to extend the remand of all four detainees by eight days. They were suspected of numerous offenses, including attempted entry to a closed military zone, aggravated assault and battery, aggravated sabotage, conspiring to commit a crime, assault of a public employee, prohibited assembly, rioting and attempted violation of a legal order.

The detainees' defense teams attorneys Orna Cohen, Hussein Abu Hussein, Hassan Jabareen of Adalah and nine other lawyers said they would appeal the arrest in the Beer Sheva District Court. The attorneys argued that the police did not have the authority to make arrests in international waters and had no evidence against their clients.

As the attorneys were preparing the appeal, police officials said they would release the suspects because an indictment appeared extremely unlikely.

Sources in the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee told Haaretz that yesterday's decision proved that the investigation was politically motivated and that the country's leaders and military establishment were obviously calling the shots for the judiciary.