The Beersheba Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday nullified a court order issued just
a day earlier which demanded all media outlets turn over photos and videos of
the protest in the South on Saturday against the Prawer plan.
of demonstrators gathered at sites across the country on Saturday to protest the
proposed Prawer- Begin resettlement bill, which would reorder large areas of
Beduin villages. The largest gathering was near at the Hura Junction in the
Negev, where several police officers were lightly wounded and tear gas and stun
grenades were used to disperse the crowds.
Doron Ben-Hamo, the Southern
District Police spokesman, had said the court order was necessary since the
assailants threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at officers from all angles, and
the police were not able to photograph or video all the attacks.
surprising turnaround, Haim Didi, representing the police in court on Tuesday,
asked that the same order be nullified. Didi told the court police knew they had
authority to maintain the court order on the media, despite an avalanche of
criticism, but that they no longer needed the order and would get the
information in some other way.
Didi also attempted – without being
prompted by the court – to explain the police’s reversal on the
“We believed the order would help obtain evidence, but we have
succeeded in obtaining evidence from other videographers who will submit [their
videos] to the court if needed,” he said.
The court responded that the
police’s conduct was “shocking,” since when the initial order was issued, they
had given the court “a secret report” proving the “utmost necessity” of the
order. The court said it had expected a hard-fought hearing Tuesday afternoon
over the order, with arguments from a range of media outlets angry at the move,
but the police’s reversal made the hearing unnecessary.
The Israel Journalists Association had previously condemned the order demanding
news outlets turn over media, saying it “goes against all ethical conventions in
Israel, to the ethical boundaries of the journalists council and to past court
“We strongly condemn this attempt to use journalists as an
investigatory tool and view it as a serious blow to the public trust in the
press,” it continued, saying it would join media outlets appealing the earlier
A statement released by Israel Police on Tuesday described the
sequence of events that led to them securing the court order, and the decision
to later nullify it.
Police said after receiving the order and “at the
end of consultation with relevant professional officials and after a deep
examination of all of the aspects and consequences of the request, the decision
was made to cancel the order approved by the court and not use it, even though
the order was secured legally.” It also said they “reserve the right to turn to
the court with specific requests dealing with certain events,” keeping in mind
the relevant proportions of the event and the demands of the
Police said 28 people were arrested in Saturday’s
protests, and that 15 officers were hurt in the South and at a protest in Haifa,
including Coastal District Commander Haggai Dotan. On Monday, the Beersheba
Magistrate’s Court presented indictments against four adults on charges
including assaulting police, disturbing the peace and harming animals and a
MK Nachman Shai (Labor), a former IDF spokesman, called the
police request on Monday “a deep blow to the press and its work.”
again the police have failed in their understanding of democracy and their
adherence to the values of an enlightened country.”
The Prawer-Begin bill
is currently being debated in the Knesset Interior Committee.
proposal would legalize some of the Beduin’s claimed land but force many to move
to government established towns in the South. Some view the plan as a compromise
between different interests involved, including advancing Jewish settlement in
the South, while others say it is a land grab by the government.