Palestinians rallied in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Tuesday, urging EU pressure on Israel to free a local leader of the global BDS campaign to boycott Israel.

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

Several rights groups, including Amnesty International, have called for his release.

“He has been detained solely for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association and is therefore a prisoner of conscience,” Amnesty said in an August 7 press release.

More than 100 protesters gathered outside the German delegation office in Ramallah urging the country, which currently holds the European body’s rotating presidency, to lobby Israel.

Palestinians protest against the detention by Israel of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement campaigner Mahmoud Nawajaa, who was arrested by the Israeli army two weeks ago, on August 11, 2020 in the city of Ramallah. (AFP)
“Our main message to the European Union and to Germany is that you need to intervene with the Israelis, force them to uphold human rights and those who defend them,” said Omar Barghouti, a co-founder of BDS.

The movement calls for a wide-ranging embargo of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.

Israeli sources familiar with Nawajaa’s case who requested anonymity told AFP that he was arrested for “security offenses,” not over his role in BDS.

They did not detail the nature of the allegations against him and Nawajaa has not been charged in court.

Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat and accuses it of anti-Semitism.

Activists strongly deny the charge, comparing the embargo to the economic isolation that helped bring down apartheid in South Africa.

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