Israeli authorities arrest prominent activists Ezra Nawi, Guy Butavia, and Nasser Nawajah. At least one of them was barred from meeting with his attorney for days. In court, one activist says his interrogators used materials taken directly from a right-wing organization.
Photos and video by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
The three anti-occupation activists in Israeli custody whose identities were under gag order until Thursday are Ezra Nawi, Guy Butavia, and Nasser Nawajah. The three were arrested over the past week and half in the wake of a “sting operation” by Israeli right-wing group, Ad Kan, which accused them of collaborating with the Palestinian Security Services against a Palestinian man who was allegedly trying to sell West Bank land to Israeli settlers. The sting aired on Israel’s primetime investigative report show, “Uvda.”
All three cases were put under a sweeping gag order, which prevented +972 and the entire Israeli media from reporting their identities or any details of the investigation.
“Ad Kan” (loosely translated to “No More”), arms its members with hidden cameras in order to capture high-profile leftists doing or saying incriminating things. This way, Ad Kan’s founders claim, it can be proven once and for all that Israeli human rights groups actually care very little about human rights.
Nawi, an Israeli Jew of Iraqi descent and an activist with anti-occupation direct action group Ta’ayush, was caught on camera telling an undercover right-wing activist that he often receives calls from Palestinian land brokers who wish to sell property in the West Bank to Israelis, but who cannot do so on the open market because doing so is a criminal offense under Palestinian law.
Nawi was then secretly filmed pretending to act as a middleman. On the video, he then explains that he will report the Palestinian land broker to the Palestinian Preventive Security Force, which he says will torture and kill both the seller and middleman.
Uvda showed Nawi meeting with the middleman to discuss the details of the deal. Nawi is later shown discussing — along with Najawah, a field worker from Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem — how to report the land broker to Palestinian security forces.
Nawi was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport three days after the program aired, although there was no legal barrier to him from leaving the country prior to his arrest. His attorney said he was trying to leave the country because right-wing activists had threatened and even attacked him at his home following the television report.
He has been in custody since his arrest, and was prevented from meeting with his attorney for nearly four days. Nawi was questioned on suspicion of accessory to manslaughter, conspiracy in attempted murder, making contact with a foreign agent, transporting an individual in Israel without a permit, and drug use.
The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday agreed to the police’s request to extend Nawi’s remand by three days. He is scheduled to be released on Sunday.
WATCH: Three anti-occupation activists brought to J’lem court
Butavia and Nawajah were arrested Tuesday night. Butavia was held for questioning and ordered released after two days. As he was being led into the court on Thursday, he suggested that the entire case was built from the work of right-wing organization Ad Kan.
“The interrogators are sitting in front of me, with Ad Kan forms,” Butavia said.
In Nawajah’s case, on the other hand, the court declared that it had no jurisdiction, a ruling that an appeals court held up. On Thursday evening, the police handed him over to the army for military trial. Unlike Israeli citizens, Palestinians in the West Bank fall under the jurisdiction of Israel’s military courts.
Nasser’s attorney, Gaby Lasky, told +972 “There is a general attack on human rights activists in order to stop the legitimacy of [speaking out] against occupation,” adding that she hopes that Israeli authorities are not able to stop the legal activities of human rights activists through the courts.