Left-wing Activist Charged With Working for Armed Palestinian Force

Investigation began after expose in which Ezra Nawi was filmed bragging of handing Palestinians who sold land to Jewish settlers over to Palestinian forces for punishment

Ezra Nawi being taken to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court in 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Left-wing activist Ezra Nawi was indicted Sunday for violating the law enacting the Oslo Accords, which forbids an Israeli citizen to work in the service of armed Palestinian security and military forces.

The indictment, filed by the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office, followed a two-and-a-half year investigation that was launched after an investigative report about Nawi’s activities was broadcast on the television program “Uvda” (“Fact”) on Channel 2. The Uvda report was based on work by an agent of the right-wing Ad Kan organization who infiltrated the Israeli-Palestinian group Taayush and recorded Nawi.

 After the broadcast, Nawi was detained for two weeks, during part of which he was not permitted to meet with a lawyer. He was questioned about a number of serious allegations, including espionage and attempted murder, but all those allegations were dropped except for the violation of Section 7A of the Oslo Accords enactment law. The indictment was filed by prosecuting attorney Chen Ben-Shalom, with the approval of State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan.

To date, only one person has ever been charged with violating this clause – a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem who served in the Palestinian security forces.

The indictment says Nawi gave sources in the Palestinian Preventive Security forces pictures of settlers cultivating Palestinian lands in the south Hebron Hills in the southern West Bank. The photos, he said, show that the Palestinian landowner recognized the Jewish farmers’ legitimate ownership of the land in question.

Another section of the indictment charges Nawi with telling sources in the Palestinian Authority, through another Palestinian activist – and with the help of the person planted by Ad Kan – about two meetings he had held with a Palestinian land agent who was seeking to buy lands from Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills and also passed on documents relating to the transactions.

“With these actions, as an Israeli citizen the accused was acting in the service of armed force of the [PA] and in the service of the intelligence bodies of its armed forces,” the indictment states.

In the television footage, Nawi, who is unaware of being recorded, is heard telling of four Palestinian landowners who contacted him, thinking he was also involved in the land trade.

"I give their photos and their phone numbers immediately to the [Palestinian] Preventive Security Force," Nawi says in the recording. "The Authority catches them and kills them. But before they kill them they beat them up."

Nawi’s attorneys, Eitan Peleg and Leah Tsemel, said in response, “This is a shameful day for the State Prosecutor’s Office, and it is sad for anyone who believes in the law enforcement system. After two-and-a-half years of delayed justice, the prosecution filed an indictment that is entirely the result of forbidden political pressures.

“The serious allegations against Ezra Nawi have already been disproved and invalidated, as demonstrated by the indictment itself, which is based on an obscure clause on the books for which no Israeli citizen has ever been prosecuted. We have no doubt that Ezra is completely innocent, and are happy for the chance to reveal in court the depth of the rot and the political pressures that infused the considerations of the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office.”

Ad Kan said it “was pleased and proud to help the law enforcement authorities in Israel to bring to justice criminals who attack IDF soldiers and Israeli security.” Ad Kan said it would have been more appropriate to charge Nawi and his colleagues with more serious crimes that would more properly reflect the crimes they allegedly committed.