Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge Eilata Ziskind, who convicted peace activist Ezra Nawi in March of participating in a riot and assaulting a police officer, on Sunday heard character witnesses presented by the defense and prosecution in preparation for sentencing on September 21.
According to the law, he could serve up to two years in jail.
The prosecution has made clear that it is not asking for the maximum sentence but is insistent that Nawi go to jail.
Nawi has become almost a legendary figure among the Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills, left-wing Israeli activists and international opponents of Israel's presence in the West Bank.
During the hearing, the Jewish Voices for Peace group presented the court with a petition signed by 20,000 supporters abroad, asking it not to send Nawi to jail.
Nawi told The Jerusalem Post afterwards that he found it hard to hear the state's allegations that he was involved in criminal activities 20 or 30 years ago, but said he was touched by the testimonies in his favor and by the 50 supporters who had come to the hearing.
Among the witnesses who testified on his behalf were Yehudit Karp, a former deputy attorney-general, Hebrew University professors Galit Hazan-Rokem and David Shulman and a close friend of Nawi who is a social worker in Jerusalem.
"Maybe some Israelis aren't happy about the support I get from Chomsky, but I can tell you that the police officers who lie all the time are 1,000 times more dangerous than Chomsky, who isn't dangerous at all."
August 18, 2009 at 1:04 AM
To date, the video detailing the events leading to his arrest has been watched over 37,000 times. Ezra Nawi's sole crime was trying to stop a military bulldozer from destroying the homes of Palestinian Bedouins in the South Hebron region. Ironically, Judge Ziskind verdict punishes Nawi for "disturbing the peace:" The peace of the bulldozer and the home demolitions.
After the soldiers demolished the home, a handcuffed Ezra is seen telling the laughing soldiers:
August 18, 2009 at 1:05 AM
Ezra's case is part of a larger pattern of harassment targeting nonviolent resistance against the Israeli occupation. Palestinian nonviolent activists fare considerably worse than him. We recall the recent arrests of Palestinian nonviolent activists in the town of Bil'in. Eighteen Palestinian activists remain in military prison today, together with the two leaders of the the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements: Mohammed al-Khatib and Adib Abu Rahma. They sit in military jails without bail-or are offered bail only under condition that they cease their nonviolent demonstrations. Others, such as Bassem Ahmed Ibrahim Abu Rahma, have paid for their nonviolent protests with their lives. Last April, he was killed in Bilin by a high velocity tear gas fired directly at him at close distance.