We’re writing to you because you’ve already taken action to stop the imprisonment of these nonviolent heroes. We just got word in on their status and the news is not good. They need you to continue to take action.
The day before yesterday, a judge extended the detention of Mohammad Othman for yet another 11 days. He was detained on September 22 by Israeli authorities when returning to the West Bank after a trip to Norway, where he advocated for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Since his detention, he has endured long interrogations and solitary confinement.
Yesterday, Israeli activist Ezra Nawi was sentenced to one month in jail. Why? On July 22, 2007, he tried to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region. The whole incident was documented on video, except for a few seconds when Ezra was inside the shack being demolished. Israeli Border Policemen claimed to have been hit by Ezra in these few seconds, and the judge, of course, took their word over Ezra’s.
This should come as no surprise. The very same day of Ezra’s sentencing, Israel’s State Prosecutor’s Office decided not to press charges against Border Guard policemen documented in a video hitting Palestinians, ‘as they did not cause real damage.’ (1)
While these Border Guards go free, Ezra Nawi goes to jail.
After over 20,000 of you wrote letters in Ezra’s defense, the judge had tried to avert more bad publicity by encouraging Ezra to admit his guilt and take community service instead of prison time. Ezra could not admit a crime he did not commit, so rather than avoiding jail as a guilty person, he is going to prison as an innocent man.
Ezra was further ordered to pay a fine of NIS 750 and NIS 500 to each of the officers he was wrongfully convicted of assaulting. In addition, Ezra was given a conditional sentence of six months in prison, should he ‘participate in similar activities’ during the next three years.
In reaction to the sentence, settlers complained about ‘the selectivity of law enforcement officials,’ implying that the judge went too light on Nawi, but ignoring the glaring irony that it is the settlers themselves who enjoy the privileges of the discriminatory system imposed by the Israeli occupation. (2)
For updates and next steps on Ezra’s case, please go here.
Today, the first two young Israeli conscientious objectors of the class of 2010 faced the consequences of their refusal to serve in the Israeli army. Efi Brenner was sent to his first ten days of jail, and at press time was being held in solitary confinement. Or Ben-David is under arrest, awaiting her sentence.
The 2010 Shministim letter of refusal states in part:
Out of sense of responsibility and concern for the two nations that live in this country, we cannot stand idle. We were born into a reality of occupation, and many of our generation see this as a “natural” state. In Israeli society it is a matter of fact that at 18, every young man and woman partakes in military service. However, we cannot ignore the truth – the occupation is an extreme situation, violent, racist, inhuman, illegal, non democratic, and immoral, that is life threatening for both nations. We that have been brought up on values of liberty, justice, righteousness and peace cannot accept it.” (3)
Please go here to get updates on the Shministim of 2010
These are just some of the faces of the people imprisoned because of their resistance to the Israeli occupation. There are, of course, countless more. Last summer, the prisoners’ support and human rights organization Addameer published a report documenting the arrests of demonstrators and human rights defenders. (4)
This has been a difficult week, but make no mistake — the struggle is not over. We take comfort on Nelson Mandela’s words, “In my country we go to prison first and then become President.”