Jewish-Israeli held for helping Palestinian authorities released from prison


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A left-wing Jewish-Israeli activist who was recorded saying he helps Palestinian authorities find and kill Palestinians who sell land to Jews was released from jail.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ordered the release of Ezra Nawi on Sunday, two weeks after he was arrested as he attempted to board a plane to Europe. He remains under house arrest.

Policed reportedly had asked for an extension of six days, saying that Nawi was not cooperating with its investigation.

Another left-wing Israeli activist, Guy Batavia, also was released, as was a field worker for the B’Tselem human rights group, Nasser Nawaj’ah, a Palestinian who was also arrested in connection with the investigation.

In a recording aired Jan. 8 by the investigative news television program “Uvda” on Israel’s Channel 2, Nawi is heard speaking about four Palestinian real-estate sellers whom he said mistook him for a Jew interested in buying their property.

“Straight away I give their pictures and phone numbers to the Preventive Security Force,” Nawi, a far-left activist from the pro-Palestinian Taayush group, is heard saying in reference to the Palestinian Authority’s counterintelligence arm. “The Palestinian Authority catches them and kills them. But before it kills them, they get beat up a lot.”

In the Palestinian Authority, the penal code reserves capital punishment for anyone convicted of selling land to Jews. The law, which Palestinian officials defended as designed to prevent takeovers by settlers, has not been implemented in Palestinian courts, where sellers of land to Jews are usually sentenced to several years in prison. However, in recent years, several Palestinian have been murdered for selling land. Their murders have remained unsolved.

Nawi also was documented obtaining information from a Palestinian who believed Nawi was a Jew interested in purchasing land. Nawi is seen saying he intends to give the information to Palestinian security officials as well.

According to “Uvda,” an activist with the human rights group B’Tselem helped Nawi set up the would-be seller in a sting operation in which the seller would be arrested.

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