Well-known peace and anti-occupation activist Ezra Nawi, who was active in Palestinian causes and was termed a “public enemy” by the far-right government and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories, died at the age of 69 on Saturday, January 9, just a few months after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Nawi, a plumber by profession, was born in Jerusalem in 1952 to a family that emigrated from Iraq. As a teenager, he was active in the youth movement of the Communist Party of Israel (Banki-Shabiba). He renewed and intensified his political activism during the Second Intifada, when he joined the Israeli-Palestinian organization Ta’ayush (Arabic for “living together
Nawi made many enemies in the Israeli establishment due to his political activities, and was no stranger to the courtroom. His many convictions include “illegal use of weapons,” transporting Palestinian workers, “rioting” and “assaulting police officers.” During his time as an activist in the West Bank, he was arrested and released dozens of times. In a 2005 interview with Haaretz, he said that he could no longer count how many times he had been arrested, questioned and released for involvement in activities in the South Hebron Hills.
In 2018, he Nawi was indicted for “cooperation with Palestinian security forces”. His indictment mentions a rare clause — “violating a clause of the Oslo Accords,” signed by Israel and the PLO, which forbids Israelis to act in the service of the Palestinian armed forces. At the time of his death, Nawi’s trial was still ongoing.
The friends of Nawi in Ta’ayush published the following in memoriam: “Ezra brought much good to this world. He was a force of nature, working tirelessly for equality, human dignity and humor. Ezra waged war against the occupation, armed with a pickup truck, a hat and a constant aspiration for justice. For many of us — in Jerusalem, in the South Hebron Hills and throughout the world — he was a guide. Many tried to harm him and his activism, but he persisted in his fight until the end. We loved Ezra and valued him profoundly.”