Israeli Court Refuses to Extend West Bank Ban Against Left-wing Activists

'There is no danger that justifies any limitation of freedom,' writes judge, rejects police request for restraining order against Ezra Nawi and Guy Butavia.

Ezra Nawi outside the Jerusalem District Court.
Olivier Fitoussi

A Jerusalem court on Thursday rejected a police request to extend a restraining order barring left-wing Ezra Nawi and Guy Butavia from the West Bank.

Nawi and Butavia were arrested in January in the wake of an investigative television report based on material collected by Ad Kan, a right-wing group. They were suspected of offenses including accessory to manslaughter, conspiracy to commit murder and passing information to a foreign agent.

After their release, they were banned from entering the West Bank until Sunday, Feb. 14. The police on Thursday requested a 60-day extension of the restraining order, accompanied by new, classified material to strengthen their claim that Nawi and Butavia are dangerous. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge Joy Skappa-Shapiro rejected the request.

“There is no danger here that justifies such limitation of liberty,” she stated in her decision. “It is unavoidable that the danger to the respondent himself in the West Bank is greater.”

She criticized the police for filing the request at the last minute, “in a way that put the judge and the respondents’ representatives in an almost impossible time frame.”

Eitan Peleg, one of Nawi’s lawyers, slammed the police request as “scandalous,” saying, “The investigation is ... political, as proved in court in previous hearings.”