Israel extends military detention of BDS movement’s Mahmoud Nawajaa

Mahmoud Nawajaa

     

An Israeli military court on Sunday extended for 15 days the detention of prominent human rights defender Mahmoud Nawajaa.

Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement was seized from his Ramallah home by dozens of Israeli occupation soldiers in a night raid early Thursday.

He is being held without charge or trial based on secret allegations from Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police.

Shin Bet alleged that Nawajaa belonged to a “proscribed” organization, had provided services to it, and had communicated with others in order to carry out attacks, according to prisoners rights group Addameer, which is representing him.

The 34-year-old father of three, who participated in the military court hearing by video link, vehemently denied the allegations.

“Playbook of repression”

Nawajaa is being barred from meeting with his lawyers and the military judge failed to take any measures to ensure that he is held in humane conditions and not subject to torture or mistreatment, Addameer added.

“Today’s hearing followed precisely the Israeli Shin Bet playbook of repression, which is reminiscent of apartheid South Africa’s,” Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement, said.

“Without charges or a shred of evidence, they throw outrageous lies at Palestinian human rights defenders, like Mahmoud, to smear them and to make it easier for the rubber-stamp military courts to extend their detention, ill-treatment and, often, cruel interrogation,” Barghouti added.

Barghouti has himself been subject to regular harassment and intimidation by Israeli authorities.

Dublin-based human rights group Front Line Defenders said it believes Nawajaa’s arbitrary arrest “is a result of his peaceful and legitimate human rights work.”

There is no guarantee that Nawajaa will be charged or released even after 15 days. He could be subjected by Israel to so-called administrative detention, prolonged imprisonment without charge or trial.

Amnesty International has said that administrative detention “is used systemically by the Israeli authorities to arbitrarily detain individuals as punishment for their views and suspected political affiliations, and to hold suspects who could not be prosecuted and tried due to lack of admissible evidence.”

There are currently more than 360 administrative detainees among the 4700 Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel.

Call for solidarity

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) on Friday issued a global call for action to help secure Nawajaa’s release.

It is urging activists to demand that their governments condemn Nawajaa’s detention and press for his release.

Mick Wallace, a member of the European Parliament from Ireland, called Nawajaa’a arrest “intolerable behavior” by Israel and urged EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell not to “stay silent.”

Miguel Urbán, a member of the European Parliament from Spain, wrote to Borrell demanding action to free Nawajaa and end Israel’s human rights abuses.

Urbán urged suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement, stopping the arms trade, halting trade in goods from Israel’s illegal settlements and assisting in bringing suspected Israeli war criminals to justice.

Manu Pineda, head of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Palestine, called the arrest of Nawajaa “a clear act of aggression against Palestine and the BDS movement, with the impunity that comes from the support of Trump and the passivity of the EU.”

Podemos, the left-wing political party in Spain’s parliament, has condemned the arrest and called for action to protect human rights defenders.

Other activist groups around the world are also rallying support, many using the hashtag #FreeMahmoud:

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.