Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two who deserve prizes not imprisonment

TWO PEOPLES. ONE FUTURE, and two men behind bars for working for it.
MOHAMMAD OTHMAN (left) and (right) EZRA NAWI.

A PEACE PRIZE for Obama, a bid for the European Union presidency for Tony Blair, though meanwhile he was given some home truths when he entered a mosque in Nablus.

Two men who should get prizes, for working for the freedom and justice without which there can be no peace, have been put back under lock and key this week by the Israeli occupation authorities.

One is Mohammad Othman, from the Palestinian village of Jayyous, campaigner against the Wall which separates the villagers from their land, arrested on his return from Norway, where he had spoken for a boycott and divestment from Israel. Here is an update from Hindi Mesleh yesterday:

At the court hearing yesterday, the judge has extended Mohammad’s detention for another 11 days. Again, the Israeli interrogation police failed once again to provide any evidence justifying Mohammad’s arrest, but contended that an extension of his detention period was necessary for further interrogation. The military judge rejected the interrogators’ initial request to extend Mohammad’s detention period to 23 additional days, arguing that the period was too long, but agreed to a 11 day extension period, based on “secret information”, which was made available to him by representatives from the Israeli Security Agency (ISA). Military Judge Eliahu Nimni argued that the extension is required in order to end the interrogation and clarify suspicions against Mohammad. At the same time, he maintained that releasing Mohammad would constitute a security threat, despite the fact that no concrete suspicions of any alleged offenses were made, thus siding with the interrogation police. Addameer appealed the court’s decision and the appeal hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, 22 October at 9.30 am at Salem Court (Ofer prison, near Ramallah).

On 14 October, Addameer attorney Mahmoud Hassan stated before the Judge of the Military Appeals Court in an appeals hearing that Mohammad has been ill-treated. Since then, the interrogation police have abandoned their tactics of intimidation and threats, and instead have adopted a strategy of physical and mental exhaustion by leaving Mohammad alone, sitting in the interrogation room in the same position for several hours at a time, with his hands tied behind his back. Every few hours, the interrogators question him on issues relating to his human rights activism and activities as a volunteer with the “Stop the Wall Campaign”. They also ask questions about other staff members of the campaign, which only reinforces Addameer’s and Stop the Wall’s belief that Mohammad is detained for his activities as a human rights defender.

For more information on the case and on the condition Mohammad is in, please go to for a more detailed update. It is very important that all of us keep sending letters to either your own political representatives AND the Israeli authorities!

Mohammad also has a personal message for all the supporters around the world, expressing his deep gratitude to all of you. He says he is doing okay, but his lawyer said that the long hours of interrogation are talking their toll on Mohammad. Mohammad is asking you to step up the campaign for his release and that of other anti apartheid activists.

Far from sapping the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, the arrest of Mohammad Othman has given it a boost, as Hindi Mesleh adds:

The global BDS marathon last friday and saturday was very succesful: it saw around 20 activties held on four continents of the globe, a testimony to the international solidarity that Mohammad’s case has received and a world increasingly less willing to stand by in silence whilst Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights continue.

Next, the Israeli online news YNet reports:
Leftist gets month in jail for assault

Ezra Nawi, member of Ta'ayush organization, is sentenced to 30-days in prison after being convicted of assaulting Border Guard officers, rioting during demolition of illegal Bedouin structures near South Mount Hebron '

Initiated by Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, Ta'ayush (Partnership) is a network of Palestinians and Israeli Jews who work together to bring material and moral support to Palestinian communities under curfew and siege. Ezra Nawi, an Israeli from a misrahi(eastern Jewish) background and a plumber by trade, has been active for years in the area known as South Mount. Hebron. The Palestinians in this small desolate area in the very south of the West Bank have been under Israeli occupation for almost 42 years; they still live without electricity, running water and other basic services, and are continuously harassed by the Jewish settlers who constantly violate both Israeli and International law, but are backed by Israeli occupation forces, in an effort to 'ethnically cleanse" the area of Palestinians.

Ezra Nawi has consistently sought to use non-violent tactics of resistance, but he was sentenced to one month in prison, after being convicted of 'assaulting police officers' and 'rioting' during the demolition of Bedouin homes in July 2007. He was also ordered to pay a fine of NIS 750., and an additional NIS 500 ($135) compensation to each officer he was accused of assaulting..

Perhaps most seriously, Ezra faces a 12-month suspended sentence if he should break the law in the south Hebron area again.

Judge Eilata Ziskind wrote in her ruling that "even if there is a supreme goal, it cannot be used as an excuse to commit offenses." Nawi said in response that "the court has been permitting the occupation. The punishment doesn’t scare me, and neither does the judge."

The judge said, "The fact that a person is acting in the name of one ideology or another, as justified as it may be, is no excuse to commit offenses in the name of that ideology, and in this matter there is no difference between left-wing activists, right-wing activists, religious, seculars, or other groups in conflict."

After the sentencing Nawi told Ynet, "The judge would rather take the word of two Border Guard officers who lied and coordinated their testimonies. The entire system wants to see me in jail. The court has been permitting the occupation for years, they are trying to stop me at all costs. The judge doesn't scare me, and neither does the 30-day sentence. This is testimonium paupertatis to the court, I tried to stop criminal activity, and I ended up having to pay two officers who acted brutally. This is the Israeli reality."

As though the charge of attacking two officers was not ludicrous enough (which may be why Judge Zeskind did not pass a heavier sentence), a group claiming to defend the "human rights" of West Bank settlers has protested that one month was not enough, that the settlers had been insulted, and that Ezra Nawi was being allowexd to "run wild" in the West Bank. The only people running wild have been the armed right-wing settlers, who have trashed shops and stalls in Hebron, and attacked farmers and shepherds in the Hebron hills. The more they want to shout for retributive justice, the sooner they will get it - they and the their supporters, whether in Israel or abroad.

More info:-

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