Israel releases BDS coordinator

Smiling man sits at press podium

Mahmoud Nawajaa


An Israeli military court released human rights defender Mahmoud Nawajaa on Monday after detaining and interrogating him for 19 days.

Nawajaa is the general coordinator of the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement.

Despite his prolonged interrogation, the Israeli military filed no charges and released Nawajaa unconditionally.

“The Israeli occupation and the settler-colonial apartheid regime arrested me to obstruct the BDS movement, distort its image and intimidate its activists,” Nawajaa said upon his release.

“But it failed once again today, before popular will and international solidarity – which are the strength of the BDS movement on the Palestinian, Arab and international levels.”

Israeli soldiers seized Nawajaa from his home near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank during a night raid on 30 July.

His detention was renewed three times throughout his arrest.

Israel’s Shin Bet secret police had alleged that Nawajaa belonged to a “proscribed” organization, had provided services to it, and had communicated with others in order to carry out attacks.

Israeli prison authorities prevented his family from seeing him, and he was only able to see his lawyer after 13 days of interrogation.

Nawajaa told the lawyer from the prisoners rights group Addameer that he was “subjected to ill-treatment and degrading detention conditions but not torture.”

Palestinians held protests in Ramallah last week calling for his release.

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders, as well as Palestinian civil society, called for his release.

Amnesty declared Nawajaa a prisoner of conscience.

Nawajaa thanked everyone who campaigned for his release “despite the fabricated ‘suspicions’ and lies propagated by apartheid Israel against me.”

“BDS is an idea and an effective, morally consistent, anti-racist strategy of peaceful resistance and solidarity,” Nawajaa added.

“They cannot break us because they cannot crush an idea or counter our strategy, despite all the financial, intelligence, political, diplomatic and propaganda resources they’ve invested in their war of repression against BDS.”

Notably, the European Union failed to condemn Israel’s arrest of Nawajaa or directly call for his release, despite its claims to be a champion for human rights defenders.

The EU only broke its silence about two weeks into Nawajaa’s imprisonment, stating that it was “closely following the case” through its office in Jerusalem.


Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.