New Israeli police regulations reduce right to protest

The Israeli police have limited the rights to civil protests with new police guidelines, despite a ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice.

The new guidelines of the Israeli police seek to restore restrictions on civil protest. These new guidelines stipulate that gatherings of more than 50 people will need to obtain a permit, as well as marches which exceed 50 people.

Furthermore, the police have the opportunity to enforce restrictions on the organisers of smaller protests, which by law do not require a permit. Furthermore, the police can unilaterally set conditions on a demonstration if no specific organiser can be identified.

These new guidelines are on the backdrop of the upcoming Israeli elections and this decision of the Israeli High Court of Justice has been criticised. Only two years ago the High Court of Justice had ruled that demonstration of any size can take place without obtaining a permit.

However, the police have discovered a loophole, which makes it possible for them to bypass the ruling of the High Court. Instead of protest, the police now declares them as protest events, which is a new term in Israeli law.

The term is described very vaguely as a group of people participating in a demonstration [] expressing an idea, protest or message. It furthermore declares that the police are authorised to impose, in advance or retroactively, restrictions on demonstrations and marches that it believes are almost certain to endanger public safety.

According to the Times of Israel, the police have responded to the critique by stating that the regulations do not limit freedom of expression and protest, but set a consistent policy for handling security at protests across police districts.

This new decision comes in a time where Israel has seen an increase in demonstrations, for instance, against the Nation-State law and the protest following the killing of an Ethiopian jew by a police officer.

Furthermore, in times of questionable moral decisions of government officials, such as the step of interior minister, who expelled a few hundred non-Jewish Filipino children who were born in Israel, reactionary movements pop up all over Israel to address this crumbling of liberal values.

Additionally, these new regulations come short of the Israeli election on 17 September, possibly limiting protests against the virulent rhetoric of right-wing party candidates.

Source: Palestine Monitor