Jewish peace activist faces jail after homes demolition protest

By staff writers
July 1, 2009

A Jewish peace activist today faces a jail sentence of up to 18 months after protesting against the demolition of Palestinian homes.

Ezra Nawi, a plumber from Jerusalem, said he would lodge an immediate appeal which may keep him out of prison initially but it is likely he will be jailed within weeks.

In March, he was convicted by a judge in a Jerusalem court of taking part in a riot and assaulting a police officer. He denies the charges.

The incident happened when the Israeli military sent bulldozers to demolish Palestinian shacks near the settlement of Carmel, close to Hebron, on 22 July 2007.

Ezra Nawi has been active for years in the area known as South Mt. 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 live without electricity, running water and other basic services and say they are continuously harassed by the Jewish settlers who constantly violate both Israeli and International law. The settlers are backed by a variety of Israeli military occupation forces, all of which operate in an effort to cleanse the area from its Palestinian inhabitants and create a new demographic reality within it.

Nawi's persistent nonviolent activity in the area has been aimed both at helping the local population to stay on their lands but also at exposing the situation in the area to both the Israeli and international public eye.

Nawi has received threats on his life from the settlers in the past. However, the chief of the investigations in the Hebron Israeli Police once admitted that Nawi was "exposing the dirt laying under the rug..."

Campaigners say that settlers, military occupation forces and Israeli police have a strong interest in restricting his movement and banning him from the area.

The demolition and the resistance to it, were captured on film and broadcast on Israeli news. Nawi, the man dressed in a green jacket, can be seen protesting against the demolition but after the bulldozer destroyed the buildings, he also told the border policemen what he thinks of their actions.

Sitting handcuffed in a military vehicle following his arrest, he exclaimed: "Yes, I was also a soldier, but I did not demolish houses... The only thing that will be left here is hatred..."

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