Israel/OPT: Release of Mr. Mahmoud Nawajaa, General Coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee

18/08/2020
Urgent Appeal

New information
ISR 002 / 0820 / OBS 091.1
Release
Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory
August 18, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the release of Mr. Mahmoud Nawajaa, General Coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee (BNC), a broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the global BDS movement. BDS is an international movement which promotes a non-violent mobilisation to end Israel’s 1967 occupation, end its system of racial discrimination and uphold the UN-stipulated right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes[1].

According to the information received, on August 17, 2020, the Salim military court ordered the release without charges of Mr. Mahmoud Nawajaa at the request of the military prosecution, which failed to provide any evidence to indict him. The latter was released from the Al-Jalama detention centre on the same day, after 19 days of arbitrary detention (see background information).

The Observatory welcomes Mr. Nawajaa’s release, but recalls that he should never have been detained, as his detention was only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory more generally calls for the end of any kind of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Mahmoud Nawajaa and all other human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Background information:

On July 30, 2020, in the middle of the night, Mr. Mahmoud Nawajaa was arrested at his home near Ramallah, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, by tens of Israeli soldiers who stormed his house, handcuffed and blindfolded him before taking him to the interrogation centre of Al-Jalama prison, where he is still detained. His laptop and cellphone as well as his wife’s were confiscated during the raid. His arrest is believed to be a retaliation for his peaceful work with BDS against the alleged Israeli illegal annexation plan, which is illegal and would have “a disastrous impact on human rights” throughout the Middle East according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet[2].

On August 2, 2020, Mr. Nawajaa attended a hearing in an Israeli military court near Jenin held via videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The court ordered an additional 15-day detention, although no evidence or charges were presented at the hearing.

On August 4, 2020, after an appeal submitted by the NGO Addameer[3], the court reduced his detention to eight days. However, it was extended again for another eight days on August 9, 2020. Following the submission of another appeal, the NGO reached an agreement with the head of the interrogation team in Al-Jalama detention centre to reduce Mr. Nawajaa’s detention until August 13, 2020.

However, on August 13, 2020, the Salim military court extended his detention for an additional five days.

Besides, Mr. Nawajaa was denied his right to have access to a lawyer for eleven days. After a petition filed by Addameer to the Israeli High Court, the authorities finally lifted the ban to access a lawyer on August 10, 2020.

Actions requested:

Please write to your respective governments demanding that they apply effective pressure on the authorities of Israel to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Mahmoud Nawajaa and all other human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Mahmoud Nawajaa and all other human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

iii. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, 5 and 12.2;

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in accordance with international human rights instruments, including the right to advocate for peaceful campaigns for Palestinian rights, which the European Court of Human Rights recently considered as protected freedom of expression.

Addresses:

• Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel; Email: b.netanyahu@pmo.gov.il, pm_eng@pmo.gov.il, Twitter: @netanyahu
• Mr. Benny Gantz, Minister of Defense; Email: bgantz@knesset.gov.il
• Mr. Gabi Ashkenazy, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Email: sar@mfa.gov.il, gashkenazy@knesset.gov.il
• Mr. Avi Nissenkorn; Minister of Justice; E-mail: sar@justice.gov.il, anissenkorn@knesset.gov.il
• Mr. Avichai Mandelblit, State Attorney; Email: state-attorney@justice.gov.il
• H.E. Ambassador Ms. Aviva Raz Shechter, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Email: mission-israel@geneva.mfa.gov.il
• H.E. Ambassador Simona Frankel; Embassy of Israel in Belgium and Luxembourg; Email: web@brussels.mfa.gov.il

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Israel in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, August 18, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29


[1] As stated in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (III), paragraph 11, from December 11, 1948.
[2] See : https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/06/1067392
[3] Addameer (Arabic word for “conscience”) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association is a Palestinian non-governmental, civil institution that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons.

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