Israeli activist 'will be jailed for violent protest'

By Jessica Elgot, June 30, 2009

An Israeli peace activist is expected to spend several months in jail when he is sentenced tomorrow after he tried to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.

Ezra Nawi, a plumber from Jerusalem, is expecting a sentence of up to 18 months. He is expected to launch an appeal, but may be jailed within weeks.

In March Nawi, who is a gay Jewish Iraqi from Basra in his 50s, was convicted of taking part in a riot and assaulting a police officer when the Israeli military bulldozed Palestinian homes near the settlement of Carmel, close to Hebron, in February 2007.

Nawi said he frequently faced homophobic taunts from Israeli police, soldiers and settlers in Hebron but he is motivated to stop what he claims is “dehumanisation” of the Palestinians.

"I have seen the checkpoints, the barriers. I've seen everything with my own eyes and I think any decent person cannot sit indifferent to this. It is beyond the issue of Jews and Arabs," he said.

He added: "Here everybody sees it, but not everybody refers to it … the settlement is a few metres from them on their land, and they are in heartbreaking poverty, and then the police come to demolish the house, and this is legal? It's beyond politics."

Two border police officers who allege Nawi punched them as they took part in the demolition.

In his defence, Nawi admits he shouted, protested and lay in front of the bulldozer, but insists he did not strike the officers.

Last updated: 5:08pm, June 30 2009