Saturday, June 16 2012 Israeli court finds Ezra Nawi guilty of calling soldiers ‘war criminals’

On Sunday, June 10, Judge Cjana Lomp of the Jerusalem magistrate’s court convicted Taayush veteran activist Ezra Nawi of ‘offending a pubic servant’, after Ezra called Israeli soldiers ‘war criminals’.

The incident to which this allegation refers took place in July 2009. Palestinians and Israeli activists were holding a picnic on a hill near Palestinian Susya in protest of the attempt by Susya settlers to build up an outpost on that same hill in order to sieze additional Palestinian land. This outpost became known by the name Givat Hadegal (Flag Hill), and also by the name Chisdi Hashem (“the grace of  god”). Soldiers who have arrived at the spot declared the area closed military zone. Two activists were arrested. The outpost remains today uninhabited, and in recent months we accompanied farmers from Palestinian Susya to work their lands on the hillside.

Subsequently, the Israeli police prosecutions unit submitted a charge sheet against Ezra, charging him both with violating the closed military zone order and insulting a public servant, a charge based on Ezra calling two of the soldiers ‘war criminals’. Judge Lomp acquitted Ezra from the charge of violating the closed military zone order. The conviction regarding the insult was justified in that calling the deputy battalion commander ‘a war criminal’ in front of his soldiers was an offence that could severely affect his ability to function as a public servant. It should be clarified that the punishment for the “offence” is yet to be decided upon by the court in a separate procedure. We are currently considering an appeal on the conviction to the District court.

Relating to the conviction Ezra said: “this is a case of double standards. Much worse insults voiced by right-wingers do not even make it to the courtroom. Further, they did not face up the claims [that the soldiers are war criminal]. This is obviously an attempt to neutralize my activity. Let us hope that it will not succeed. Lastly, the most important thing is that we succeeded – the settlers moved away from Givat Hadegel”.

This is not the first time that Ezra faces legal prosecution due to his tireless activity in support of the Palestinians of South Hebron Hills. In 2010, Ezra has served a one month prison term following his attempt to prevent the demolition of a shack in the village of  Khirebt Um el-Khier.