Israel: Arrests mark crackdown on human rights groups

Ezra Nawi.

Israel has arrested three human rights defenders amid what appears to be a concerted campaign to sabotage domestic groups documenting Israeli abuses of Palestinians, Electronic Intifada said on January 21.

Israeli forces arrested Ezra Nawi, a member of Taayush, a Palestinian and Jewish activist group that defends the rights of Palestinian farmers in the South Hebron Hills area of the occupied West Bank.

Israel arrested a second person from Taayush on January 19 and questioned him on suspicion of being an “accomplice to manslaughter, conspiracy to commit murder, passing on information to a foreign agent, transporting a person without a legal entry permit into Israel and use of drugs”.

Israeli media have not named the activist due to a gag order, but social media users have identified him as the filmmaker Guy Butavia. Like Nawi, Butavia was reportedly arrested after passing through airport border control, on the way out of the country.

In the current climate of hatred and incitement against human rights groups, the two apparently felt they were no longer safe in Israel.

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