Palestinian protesters urge Israel to free boycott activist
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Dozens of Palestinians protested outside the German diplomatic office in the West Bank on Tuesday, seeking to draw attention to Israel’s arrest of a leading coordinator of the Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel.
Mahmoud Nawajaa was arrested on July 30 and remains in Israeli custody. He has not been charged.
Protesters gathered outside the German office in downtown Ramallah, where they handed a letter to the office calling on the European Union to press for Nawajaa’s release. Germany is the current president of the EU.
Global human rights group Amnesty International has also called on Israel to “immediately and unconditionally” release Nawajaa.
The protesters held signs accusing Israel of illegally holding Nawajaa without charges.
His wife, Ruba Nawajaa, said more than 20 soldiers with dogs raided their house after midnight to arrest her husband, frightening their three children.
She said he hasn’t seen a lawyer since he was arrested. Mahmoud Nawajaa is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, according to his supporters. After that, he could be released, his detention could be extended further or charges against him could be raised.
The BDS movement calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel to protest what it says is Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. Israel says the BDS movement’s nonviolent message masks a deeper agenda that aims to delegitimize and even destroy the country.
Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency said Nawajaa was suspected of unspecified “security offenses.” It declined to elaborate, but said the arrest was unrelated to his BDS activities.
But BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti accused Israel of arresting him on a false pretext.
“We are here to tell Germany as the president of the EU council that its time to apply real pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian rights and international law,” he said.