Judge Reverses Lower Court's Decision, Bans Left-wing Activists From West Bank

District Court bans Ta’ayush activists Ezra Nawi and Guy Butavia, suspected of exposing to PA Palestinians who sell land to Israelis.

Ezra Nawi outside the Jerusalem District Court.
Olivier Fitoussi

The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday partially granted the police’s request to ban Ta’ayush activists Ezra Nawi and Guy Butavia from entering the West Bank. The court ordered the two left-wing activists to stay out of the West Bank for 14 days, though the police had asked for 60 days.

Nawi and Butavia are under suspicion for numerous offenses, including accessory to manslaughter, conspiracy in attempted murder, passing information to a foreign agent, transporting an individual in Israel without a permit and drug use.

On Thursday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court denied the Israel Police’s request to keep the two out of the West Bank, terming it an unacceptable infringement on their freedom of occupation and expression. The police appealed that decision to the District Court, and the higher court overruled it.

The police had asked the lower court to increase their bail and extend an order barring the suspects from talking with others involved in the investigation. One reason the police representative gave for wanting the men barred from the West Bank was that they are “involved in provocations against Israel Defense Forces soldiers.”

During the appeal, the police presented documents allegedly showing that witnesses said they were afraid of Nawi. The suspects’ lawyers said the investigation was political and the goal of the request to keep them out of the West Bank was to prevent their political activities.

Judge Moshe Bar-Am wrote that while there was no justification for keeping the two under arrest, it is possible to say there is a reasonable suspicion concerning their activities and reasonable justification to impose proportionate limitations on the suspects.

Nawi’s attorney, Eytan Peleg, attacked the decision: “We respect the court’s decision but greatly regret it. In all the previous decisions, including in the District Court, it was determined there was no fear of obstruction. The limitation on entry to Judea and Samaria in its entirety is unreasonable and does not serve – and cannot serve – any investigative need.”

Nawi was shown by Channel 2’s investigative show Uvda describing how his actions led to the deaths of Palestinians who sought to sell West Bank land to Jews. He was secretly recorded saying that he had turned in the land brokers to Palestinian security services, who then killed them. The footage was obtained by right-wing activists who infiltrated such groups in an attempt to discredit them.