Israel’s Beersheba District Court has sentenced four Arab-Israeli citizens to prison after they protested against a settlement plan in the Negev Desert, Quds News Agency reported on Wednesday. The four were named as Atef Abu Ayesh, who was sent to prison for 12 months; Usama Nasasra for 10 months; Obaida Hawashleh also for 10 months; and Atef Abul Qi’an for four months.
The court claimed that the sentences are “in the public interest.” Local sources pointed out that these sentences were issued on appeal against a previous sentence of three years for each one of the defendants.
According to rights groups, the sentences are still “oppressive” because the four youths took part in a legal, peaceful demonstration. “This measure aims to scare the Palestinian citizens of Israel in order for them not to call for their rights,” they claimed.
The four took part in a demonstration against the Israeli settlement proposal dubbed the Brawer Plan, which aims to evacuate Arab neighbourhoods in the Negev and replace them with Jewish communities. The people who are evacuated will, apparently, be given apartments in certain areas away from the Negev.