"Israel engaged in serious repression of non-violent activism"

A Tel Aviv court has sentenced an Israeli activist, Jonathan Pollak, to three months in prison for a non-violent anti-war protest. Human rights activists are calling the sentence unusually harsh.

Jonathan Pollak, 28, took part in a bicycle-ride demonstration against the blockade of Gaza that took place in Tel Aviv in January 2008.

Pollak refused to comply with the judge’s sentence of community service, arguing that he did nothing wrong, Haaretz newspaper reported. He also refused to express regret for his actions, adding that he is only sorry he did not play a bigger role in the protest, which involved 30 other activists.

According to the media co-ordinator for the Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee, Joseph Dana, the court’s decision is just another attack by the Israeli government on non-violent activism against the Gaza blockade.

”Israel is engaged in a very serious military and diplomatic repression of any aspect of non-violence,” he said. “We see this with the Mavi Marmara attack and also with other Palestinian non-violent activists.”

“Mr Pollak’s sentencing is the latest attack on this [issue] in which Israel is targeting its own citizens, and I think it is quite a commentary on Israeli society that the only Israeli that has been jailed in relation to the Gaza War is one that decided to non-violently ride his bike through the streets of Tel Aviv,” Dana added.