Police chief to officers: Act sensitively with activists

Violence, attacks on public employees will be met with more severe law enforcement; Court rules 3 TA protesters can return to Rothschild

July 28, 2011 14:34
2 minute read.
New police chief Yochanan Danino

Yochanan Danino GOOD 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino on Thursday ordered district commanders to act with sensitivity and tolerance toward the growing number of activists calling for social change.

Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv District Court rescinded a ban on three demonstrators returning to the main tent-city housing protest site in the city’s Rothschild Boulevard.

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Danino comments were made during a weekly evaluation meeting held with senior police officers.

“Commanders and officers must show restraint toward the demonstrators and allow for all expressions of legitimate protest so long as the protests do not violate the law and public order,” he said.

“With regards to any attempt by extremist element to exploit the protests to break the law, act violently, block roads, or attack public employees and properties, we will respond with immediate law enforcement activities with determination,” the police chief warned.

The judges in the Tel Aviv court ruled on Thursday morning to remove bail conditions imposed on three people arrested during the large housing rally in the city on Saturday night.

The bail conditions had banned the trio from returning to the tent city encampment in Rothschild Boulevard and from participating in any further demonstrations.

They were arrested at the end of a protest last Saturday against high housing costs, when hundreds of demonstrators blocked Rehov Ibn Gvirol and began throwing bottles and other objects at police.

Forty-three people were arrested, on suspicion of attacking police and disturbing public order.

Police held eight of those arrested in custody overnight.

The eight protesters were released on Sunday morning after a hearing in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.

However, the court issued a bail injunction banning seven of the protesters from re-entering the tent city. The protesters were also forbidden from taking part in any protest or demonstration for 30 days.

Police had sought to prolong the detention of all eight protesters, who are suspected of offenses including assaulting police officers, damaging property and throwing a smoke grenade during the protest.

Immediately after the court’s ruling on Monday, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed an appeal against the bail terms on behalf of four of the protesters, claiming the terms “unreasonably impacted [the protesters’] rights to freedom of expression and demonstration.”

In Thursday’s hearing, Tel Aviv District Court Judge Danya Kereth-Meyer completely removed the bail conditions from three of the protesters.

Yotam Ishai, one of the three protesters, said they will now return to the Rothschild Boulevard tent city.

“We are happy that the court told police clearly that the bail conditions were unreasonable,” Ishai said. “This is an important battle for Israel’s image and we will continue to demonstrate. We hope that many more citizens will come join the struggle.”

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