This Activestills video records Guy Butavia greeted by supporters while being led through the halls outside the Jerusalem Magistate’s Court. Butavia is one of three activists, along with Ezra Nawi and Nasser Nawajah, who are being held in custody, their identities previously placed under a sweeping gag order in a “witch hunt” after a sting operation aired on Israel’s primetime show Uvda, set up by undercover activists from a rightwing group Ad-Kan. While investigators are scurrying around trying to drum up bogus trumped up murder charges against them, everyone already knows no murder has ever taken place! But none the less charges of conspiracy to murder serious. Yossi Gurvitz started poking around(Hebrew) before the gag order was in place, then the farcical fiasco (with a story line fit for a shakespearean comedy if only it weren’t all too sadly true) continued unfolding on Tikun Olam, thanks to sleuth and blogger Richard Silverstein.
“The police are working for Ad-Kan” shouts Butavia! Ad-Kan being the astro-turf organization “established to hide the involvement of other powerful right-wing groups and government entities which preferred to go under the radar”, explains Silverstein. Check out the video’s transcript, subtitles/translation, thanks Ronnie Barkan:
Hang in there, Guy!
Butavia: Ad-Kan didn’t just make an investigation for Uvda TV show. The police are working for Ad-Kan: the investigators sit in front of me holding Ad-Kan forms. They simply got all the questions, the pre-prepared investigation from Ad-Kan. The Israeli police are working for the Samaria Settler Council.
Respect, Guy! Stay strong!
Guy, do you feel this is a political arrest?
Butavia: This is totally a political arrest. Its sole purpose is to thwart our activity for human rights in the territories, against the crimes and criminals of the occupation. They will not break us, they will not. All the cases they have tried to pin on us they haven’t succeeded. Also this time around this entire case will fall apart.
Butavia and fellow activist Nawi were ordered released by the court:
Today, the Israeli court ordered the Jewish prisoners freed. But unfortunately this will not happen till Sunday.
But not Nasser Nawaja, the Palestinian B’Tselem field researcher arrested along with Nawi and Butavia. Although Nawaja was also directed to be released unconditionally by the Jerusalem Magistate’s Court, Israeli police ignored the Israeli court’s order and “smuggled” Nawaja to Ofer Military kangaroo court in the occupied West Bank. He’s currently being incarcerated at Ofer prison.
Get that? The police ignored the court because, as Butavia yells, the Israeli police are working for the Samaria Settler Council (Shomron Regional Council, settlers representing over 30 illegal Israeli settlements)! The Shin Bet are not interested in pursuing this bogus case, they are not the ones doing the investigation. Silverstein:
the Shabak finds this case so distasteful that it has refused to become involved in the interrogation. It has left the entire matter to the West Bank police unit which initiated the case at the behest of the official government body, the Shomron Regional Council, and its stalking horse, the NGO Ad Kan.
Meanwhile, now that the gag order has been lifted, Haaretz reports:
Nawi is suspected of contact with a foreign agent. But the foreign agents in question were apparently members of the Palestinian security services. Since Israeli defense officials are in contact with members of the PA security services on a regular basis, it’s not clear what legal grounds there could be for such a charge.
Even more puzzling, however, is the fact that the Palestinian suspect in the case, B’Tselem researcher Nasser Nawa’jah, is also suspected of contact with a foreign agent, even though he is a resident of the Palestinian Authority and not an Israeli citizen.
“For a resident of the territories, meeting with members of the Palestinian security services isn’t a crime; quite the contrary,” his attorney, Gabi Lasky, told the court. “In this case, his obligation as a Palestinian was to give the information to the authorized body in the Palestinian Authority.”
Nawi’s attorneys, Lea Tsemel and Eytan Peleg, charged in court that the Palestinian land dealer who appeared in the “Uvda” report was actually an imposter sent by a right-wing organization to entrap Nawi.
This story has more legs than a caterpillar. Let’s hope it’s resolved sooner than later and all three activists are released. Ronnie Barkan nails it: “the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a legal basis for holding the three in custody, let alone the gag order, and yet it carries on even though this is quite clearly a case of political repression.”
Jewish Voice for Peace has again appealed to its members to protest the treatment of these human rights workers. Rebecca Vilkomerson writes:
On Tuesday, I emailed you urgently about Ezra Nawi. He’s a long-time Israeli activist who season after season stands with the Palestinians of the South Hebron hills while settlers (supported by Israeli soldiers) try in every way to drive them off their land and destroy their livelihoods.
After being spied upon by a right-wing organization and smeared on national television, he was arrested, detained, and denied access to a lawyer for four days. With a gag-order on the case, we asked you to help raise the alarm. Thousands of you contacted Israeli Embassies around the world to press for his release — thank you!
But the repression is getting worse.
Two additional activists, Guy Butavia (who is Israeli), and Nasser Nawajah (a Palestinian from the South Hebron hills), have also since been arrested and will be held until Sunday. Guy has been violently attacked in jail. Nasser was ordered released from the Israeli court system — only to be promptly sent to the separate military court system that only Palestinians are subject to.
The Israeli government is hoping that no-one will notice. They’re hoping that their attacks on human rights activists will go unchecked. We can’t let that happen. We need to show them that the world is watching…
This kind of harassment and persecution is nothing new — Palestinian activists have been on the receiving end of it for years. But now human rights violations that Palestinians face every day are being faced by the Israelis who stand with them as well.
This is not democracy. This is not justice. This cannot be allowed to stand.
We need to speak out, urgently — contact the Israeli Embassy and tell them to release Ezra, Guy, and Nasser right now and close their cases.
These brave activists put their bodies on the line. And for that — for daring to speak up for the human rights of Palestinians — they’re being targeted. They’ve been spied on by far-right groups, and smeared by the press. But they’re fighting on, and we’re fighting with them.
Stand with all those who speak up for peace and justice. Email the Israeli Embassy right now.