J Street is highly concerned by recent reports that Israeli authorities in the occupied West Bank have stepped up their harassment of prominent Palestinian rights activist Nasser Nawaja.
According to a report from Ofek, the Israeli Center for Public Affairs, in recent months the Israeli army has begun operating a checkpoint near Nawaja’s home in the South Hebron Hills village of Susya. While the checkpoint is officially designated as a “corona checkpoint” for Israelis who were prohibited from entering Area A of the West Bank under Israel’s coronavirus guidelines, in practice it has evidently been used to restrict Palestinian freedom of movement and enable more frequent harassment of Nawaja and other activists. Since the checkpoint opened, Nawaja has reportedly been “consistently and systematically” stopped and detained at the checkpoint, including at least one incident where he was violently pushed to the ground, blindfolded and handcuffed, and left outside in extreme heat without water for several hours.
This treatment seems like a clear attempt by Israeli authorities to intimidate a prominent voice for Palestinian rights and must stop immediately. J Street is proud to have long maintained a strong relationship with Nawaja, who has met repeatedly with members of Congress, student activists and other participants in delegations led by the J Street Education Fund. Nawaja has done critically important work spotlighting the ongoing process of home demolitions, displacement and creeping annexation targeting Palestinian communities in Area C of the West Bank. He is an inspiring advocate for the rights of his community and his people, and must be permitted to continue his important, non-violent activism free from harassment by Israeli authorities.
J Street calls on the Israeli government as well as the Palestinian Authority to respect the rights of all people in the occupied Palestinian territory — including the right to document and protest against the systemic injustices of ongoing occupation. We also urge the US State Department to make clear to the Israeli government that the harassment of Nawaja and other peaceful Palestinian activists and advocates is unacceptable.