'Disengagement protest pardons discriminate against Left'

12 left-wing activists petition High Court against new law.

February 15, 2010 23:57
1 minute read.

Twelve left-wing activists who have been detained by police, including some facing criminal charges, petitioned the High Court of Justice on Monday against a new law that dropped criminal procedures, granted pardons and erased criminal records for hundreds of people charged or convicted of breaking the law during the 2005 protests against the disengagement from Gaza.

Eleven of the 12 petitioners were arrested during the protests that have been taking place against the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem. The other was arrested during a protest marking International Struggle Day to Prevent Violence against Women.

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The protesters include Eyal Nir, who teaches physics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba, Sarah Benigna, 27, an art teacher and student, Yoav Barak, a philosophy student, and Noa Gez, 31, a student, all of whom face criminal charges for participating in the weekly Sheikh Jarrah protests.

Uri Ayalon, 30, has been charged with taking part in an illegal gathering, interfering with a policeman and lawless behavior during the protest against violence toward women.

The petitioners, represented by attorneys Yiftah Cohen and Omer Shatz, called on the court to overrule the law, which was approved by the Knesset in final reading on January 25, because it discriminated against people of certain political beliefs for ideological reasons.

"We support pardoning the opponents of disengagement," the lawyers wrote in their petition. "The petitioners express this support as part of a general approach that supports granting pardons... to any person who is arrested, suspected or charged with an offense that was born out of the need to act according to his conscience... Nevertheless, this doesn't mean we ought to remain silent in the face of a discriminatory law."

The protesters said the court should cancel the law and the Knesset should pass legislation "that will grant appropriate and equal protection to all protesters from illegal law enforcement measures against freedom of speech."

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