Israel to Pay Left-wing Activist $12,000 for Road Harassment by Cops

Policeman and army officer to be prosecuted for forcing Ezra Nawi to violate traffic laws, then giving him a ticket.

Left-wing activist Ezra Nawi, seen in 2009.
Emil Salman/Jini

The state will pay 45,000 shekels (about $12,000) to left-wing activist Ezra Nawi, who was forced by a military jeep into driving over a solid white line and was then ticketed, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled yesterday.

The incident took place in March 2013, when Nawi was driving from Jerusalem to the south Hebron Hills as part of his work for Ta’ayush, a volunteer organization which fights for Palestinian rights. A military jeep lying in wait for him started to drive very slowly in front of him, but every time he tried to pass it, the jeep would speed up to prevent him from doing so. In the end, Nawi passed the jeep by crossing a solid white line, at which point the jeep ordered him to stop, and policeman Avraham Bohadana stepped out and gave him a ticket.

Nawi challenged the ticket in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, arguing that the ticket was harassment for his political views. Judge Miriam Kaslassy acquitted Nawi, saying, “It’s clear as day that we’re not talking about random enforcement of a traffic violation spotted by a traffic policeman, but more than that. Even if the accuser is entitled to enforce the law more stringently against those it ‘chooses to honor,’ so long as it isn’t selective enforcement, the suspect is still supposed to commit the violation on his own initiative and there’s no place for making him commit it.”

Nawi then sued the state, Bohadana, and an army officer who was also in the jeep. During the proceedings, the department for the investigation of police officers told the court the two would be prosecuted. Yesterday Judge Efrat Eichenstein approved an agreement under which the state will pay Nawi 45,000 shekels in return for his withdrawing the lawsuit.

Nawi made headlines last year when an investigative report by the Uvda television program showed him boasting that he had caused the deaths of Palestinians who sought to sell West Bank lands to Jews by turning them over to the Palestinian Authority. Nawi was arrested, held for two weeks and then released, but has yet to be told if he is to be charged or if his case is being closed.

Ezra Nawi, a member of the Israeli-Palestinian political group Ta'ayush, being taken to a Jerusalem court in January, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi