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Israel releases prominent Palestinian BDS activist

Shin Bet says Mahmoud Nawajaa was arrested last month for ‘security offenses,’ not over his role in boycott movement

Relatives of Mahmoud Nawajaa, coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the West Bank and Gaza, receive him after he was released from an Israeli prison, on August 17, 2020. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
Relatives of Mahmoud Nawajaa, coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the West Bank and Gaza, receive him after he was released from an Israeli prison, on August 17, 2020. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Israel on Monday released a West Bank leader of the global campaign to boycott the Jewish state, following his arrest last month by Israel’s internal security agency.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the West Bank and Gaza, was arrested at his home in Ramallah on July 30.

Several rights groups, including Amnesty International, campaigned for his release, including through rallies in Ramallah and Gaza this month.

“Nawajaa was released by an Israeli military court, after 19 days of illegal detention without charges,” the BDS movement said in a statement.

Israeli military tribunals exercise jurisdiction over Palestinians in the West Bank.

“Since his arrest on July 30, the Israeli internal security [agency] Shin Bet has failed to present any formal charges against him,” the BDS statement added.

A Shin Bet spokesperson told AFP that Nawajaa had been “arrested and questioned on security matters… and released at the end of the investigation.”

The BDS movement calls for a wide-ranging embargo of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians. Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism.

A law passed in 2017 allows Israel to ban foreigners with links to BDS.

Last year, Israel expelled the country director of Human Rights Watch, Omar Shakir, after accusing him of supporting BDS, a claim he denied.

Israeli sources had previously told AFP that Nawajaa’s arrest was not linked to his role with the BDS movement.

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