ISRAELI POLICE, COURTS LENIENT WITH LEFT-WING ACTIVIST
JERUSALEM -- Israeli police refused to arrest a convicted left-wing
activist during a confrontation between Jews and Arabs days after he was
sentenced to a month in jail and six months probation for similar crimes in
the West Bank.
Three days after he was sentenced to one month in jail for assaulting
police officers in the southern Hebron Hills, Ezra Nawi, 58, head of the
left-wing Tayush organization, returned to the area with a group of
activists and Palestinians, including Hamas supporter Mahmoud Abu Karish, to
protest against what he said was Jewish settlement on private Palestinian
On Oct. 24, Nawi and his group arrived at the Jewish community of Mitzpe
Asael in the southern Hebron Hills, sparking a confrontation with the Jewish
residents who alerted security forces. Police arrested five activitsts and
three Palestinians, not including Nawi, after they refused to leave the
area, violating a closed military zone order.
Jewish residents of communities in the southern Hebron Hills have
frequently complained to police about Nawi over the past few years.
Complaints ranged from trespassing, uprooting and destroying olive groves to
indecent exposure. The complaints were supported by testimony and
photographs but police investigations were closed for lack of evidence or
lack of public interest.
On Sept. 15, 2006, Nawi led five Palestinians from the nearby village of
Samoa to Yaakov Talia's Magen David farm. The group threw stones and cursed
the Jewish family and Nawi dropped his pants and exposed himself in front of
Talia's wife. Talia photographed Nawi's act and submitted a complaint to
Hebron police. Nawi, who maintains contact with police officials, was never
prosecuted. Instead, on March 28, 2007, police closed the investigation for
lack of evidence.
In the summer of 2008, Jewish residents of Mizpeh Asael filed a
complaint against Nawi and Abu Karish after Nawi led a group of supporters
to Mitzpe Asael when 40 dunams of olive groves went up in flames. Police
closed the investigation after Karish said that a cigarette butt fell to the
ground starting the fire. But three Jews, Lior Ben-David, Mordechai Azouriel
and Eyal Rachamim, videotaped beating up Karish, were arrested and indicted
on charges that included kidnapping, imprisonment, brutal assault and
destroying evidence, punishable by more than 20 years. Karish, the main
complainant in the case never testified because the Israel Security Agency
said that he was a Hamas supporter and would threaten State security if he
appeared in an Israeli court.
Nawi, a Jerusalem plumber, was convicted in 1992 for committing an
indecent act on a minor, for illegal use of a weapon, growing and possessing
drugs, entering a closed military area and transporting illegal Arab workers
into Israel from the West Bank.
In March, Nawi was convicted of assaulting police officers during the
destruction of an illegal Arab structure and on Oct. 21, Jerusalem
Magistrate Ilta Siskind sentenced him to one month in jail and six months
probation. The court also ordered him to pay a $200 fine and $136 in damages
to each police officer.
"Ideology is ideology, but this trial is not about ideology," Siskind
said. "Wild behavior from the right or the left is inconceivable, even if
the goal is to help the weak. Without order, there can be no democracy."
The Legal Forum for Israel has petitioned Attorney General Menachem
Mazuz and Deputy State Prosecutor for Special Affairs Shai Nitzan to appeal
what it termed the "the light sentence" handed down to Nawi.
"The message emerging for this light punishment is dismal and destroys
any chance of preventing further anarchist violence in Judea and Samaria"
the Legal Forum said.
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