Ezra Nawi Identified as Detained Left-wing Activist; Detention Extended by Three Days

Second left-wing activist being held in detention identified as Guy Butavia; the details of his investigation remain under a gag order, as does the case of a Palestinian human rights worker who was arrested this week.

Ezra Nawi, center, near a Jerusalem court this week.
Olivier Fitoussi

Ezra Nawi, the activist who was secretly recorded saying that he had turned in land brokers to Palestinian security services, was revealed to be the left-wing activist arrested by police two weeks ago at Ben-Gurion International Airport. 

The Jerusalem District Court agreed on Thursday to the police's request to extend Nawi's remand, extending his detention until Sunday. The policy originally sought to extend his remand on Wednesday by a day, even though the judge on Monday had suggested not requesting a remand extension in light of the evidence. Dozens of leftist activists demonstrated outside the judge's home on Wednesday morning.

Nawi was arrested at Ben-Gurion International Airport three days after Channel 2 program Uvda showed Nawi, of the Israeli-Palestinian Taayush group, saying that he had turned in the land brokers to Palestinian security services, who would then kill them. 

The decision to arrest him was taken after it was discovered that he had bought an airline ticket, raising suspicions that he would try to flee Israel. He was not called in for questioning prior to his arrest and no order had been issued barring him from leaving the country.

Haaretz learned he was questioned on suspicion of several 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.

Nawi's lawyer, Leah Tsemel, said after the court hearing that the charges were baseless and "the court clearly determined yesterday that he is not dangerous and that the evidence is weak. Today the court agreed to the police's request to allow one certain action. There's regurgitation of old acts that took place at the end of 2014."

"Ezra is holding up. The conditions aren’t easy but the persecution and allegations on the outside are just as difficult," she added.

Guy Butavia in Court, January 20, 2016.
Emil Salman

Another left-wing activist, revealed on Thursday to be Taayush activist Guy Butavia, was arrested by police this week. The details of his investigation are under a gag order. Judge Moshe Yoed Hacohen said at a Jerusalem District Court hearing that Butavia refused to answer some of the investigators' questions on grounds that it is a political probe, so he partially accepted the police's request to carry out more questioning. During the hearing, Butavia said that his cell mates are abusing him.

"I've been detained for three days and I don’t understand why, I don’t understand the charges. The prisoners next to me are smoking on my face, saying that I've touched children, and are questioning me relentlessly," he said. "I told them that I'm not allowed to talk. One prisoner hit me and I feel threatened."

Butavia's lawyer, Ano Douel-Luski, said at the hearing that "the suspect doesn’t know what the charges are, his level of threat is very low. The police themselves decided to detain him a week after the investigation began. If they believed that he poses a threat they would have arrested him earlier."

The judge ordered the police to take care of Butavia's welfare during his detention. Another hearing on his case is scheduled for Sunday.

A third Palestinian human rights worker was arrested on Tuesday by the army, and he was transferred to police for questioning. A gag order remains on this case.

According to the detainee's family, the arrest was violent. His father said that at around 2 A.M., army forces surrounded the family home. "My son knows Hebrew and he spoke with one of the officers after he was separated from the rest of the family. They cuffed him, confiscated his phones and left," the father said. "There wasn’t a search of the house, they only took the phones.  We have no idea why he was arrested and what for. I know that my son is an activist in a human rights organization and has nothing to do with anything related to harming Israel's security or any other person."