Former Balad MK Said Nafaa began his one-year prison sentence on Monday – a year and a half after he was convicted of illegally entering an enemy state and of contact with a foreign agent.
In 2007, Nafaa, who is Druze, organized a pilgrimage to Syria, where he allegedly met with members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), including Secretary-General Talal Naji, as well as attempted to meet with Hamas representatives.
Five year later, Nafaa was the guest of honor at a rally in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in which he accused the West of a "genocide" against Syrian children.
Nafaa, who served as an MK from 2007 until 2013, was first indicted in December 2011, and sentenced nearly three years later.
At the entrance to Gilboa Prison in northern Israel, members of the Joint List were joined by Islamic Movement leader Sheikh Raed Salah and Druze religious leaders in protest of Nafaa's impending prison term.
Before entering jail, the former MK disparaged the verdict against him to Channel 10.
"There is no doubt this is a political decision to prevent contact with out brothers in Syria and the ability of Druze clerics to visit the holy places," he charged. "This journey cannot stop and we will continue it."
Former MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash) also blasted the sentence, saying, "Nafaa is paying the price and going to jail for all of us."