Israeli army again renews detention of BDS coordinator

People hold signs and flags

Palestinian rights campaigners rally for the release of BDS movement coordinator Mahmoud Nawajaa, outside the Irish parliament in Dublin, 6 August. (IPSC)

An Israeli military court on Sunday extended for another eight days the detention of Mahmoud Nawajaa.

Nawajaa, the coordinator of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, was seized from his home near Ramallah by Israeli occupation forces in a night raid on 30 July.

Since then Israel has been holding him without charge or trial and is denying him access to a lawyer.

Addameer, the prisoners rights group whose lawyer is representing Nawajaa, said on Monday that it has filed a petition with Israel’s high court seeking to overturn the ban on him seeing a lawyer – which the military court extended until at least 11 August.

Previously, on 2 August, the Israeli military court extended Nawajaa’s detention for up to 15 days at the request of Israel’s Shin Bet secret police.

Prisoner of conscience

“This further extension of the illegal detention of Mahmoud by Israel’s military court system, which is notorious for its near 100 percent conviction rate of Palestinians, proves once more that only sustained international pressure, coupled with internal popular struggle, can help Palestinians achieve liberation from Israel’s apartheid and colonial system,” Stephanie Adams said on behalf of Palestine’s BDS National Committee.

The Ireland-based human rights group Front Line Defenders said on Monday that “Mahmoud Nawajaa’s family and colleagues are seriously concerned regarding his well-being as they have not heard from him since his arrest on 30 July.”

Last week, Amnesty International demanded that Israel release Nawajaa “immediately and unconditionally.”

“He has been detained solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association and is therefore a prisoner of conscience,” the group added.

While the European Union stopped short of demanding Nawajaa’s release, it said that his detention inside Israel is unlawful.

“Transferring a prisoner to detention facilities outside the occupied Palestinian territories is a violation of article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the bloc’s spokesperson told The Electronic Intifada.

EU dithering

It is notable that the EU statement sent directly to The Electronic Intifada came a full eight days after Nawajaa’s arrest, and after repeated requests.

No EU social media accounts have shared the statement or expressed any concern about Nawajaa’s arrest.

As Mick Wallace, a member of the European Parliament from Ireland, noted, the EU’s silence is in sharp contrast with its swift response to the arrest in Hong Kong on Monday of Jimmy Lai, the billionaire media mogul who bankrolls US-backed protesters.

Despite the EU’s recalcitrance, there are growing calls from parliamentarians, trade unions and solidarity groups for Nawajaa’s release – many using the hashtag #FreeMahmoud.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is urging the government of Ireland to respond to Israel’s arrest of Nawajaa, including by imposing “lawful, targeted sanctions to end Israel’s regime of oppression of the Palestinian people.”

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As is fast becoming obvious. Ireland is leading the way when it comes to standing up for Human Rights. Could it have something to do with the way they were treated, or rather mistreated, by colonialist Britain?

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