Ehud Barak 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Tarmoni/Defense Ministry)
The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called on Defense Minister Ehud
Barak on Tuesday to safeguard Palestinian rights to demonstrate, in anticipation
of mass rallies expected to coincide with the Palestinian bid for statehood at
the UN in September.
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Lawyers Dan Yakir and Raghad Jaraisy of ACRI asked
Barak to formulate an appropriate policy allowing security forces to deal with
the mass demonstrations and protests that are expected to take place in the West
Bank and along border regions next month.
In a letter to Barak, Yakir and
Jaraisy expressed concerns that security forces have acted disproportionately in
the recent past with Palestinian and Arab- Israeli protesters, including during
the Nakba protests in May.
They also slammed the government for what they
say is its “apparent nonrecognition of the rights of citizens to demonstrate and
protest, and exercise their right to freedom of expression” with regard to
country-wide housing demonstrations.
According to ACRI’s lawyers,
existing military legislation governing protests and demonstrations in the West
Bank denies Palestinian residents the right to demonstrate.
Regarding the Prohibition of Acts of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, issued
in 1967, stipulates that demonstrations and rallies in Judea and Samaria cannot
take place without a permit issued by a military commander.
for doing so is a heavy fine or ten years’ imprisonment.
which negates in practice the freedom to protest, violates Israel’s obligations
under international law to respect and protect the right to freedom of
expression and protest, including the right to demonstrate,” said Yakir and
Jaraisy. Palestinian residents of the West Bank have no access to central
government, so peaceful protests are the only way they can make their voices
heard, they said.
In their call, they referred to recommendations made by
the Or Commission in the aftermath of the October 2000 protests in the North,
during which 13 Arab-Israeli demonstrators were killed as demonstrations turned
violent. The commission urged security forces to refrain from using
disproportionate force against protesters in future demonstrations.
asked Barak to issue security forces with guidelines on how to deal with
Palestinian civilian protests, including explicit instructions not to fire on
unarmed protesters and to minimize civilian casualties.
civilians taking part in protests should not be treated like enemy combatants,
and the army should not be allowed to open fire on them,” they said.
said its letter to the minister is in response to reports that the government
intends to deploy large numbers of security forces to deal with the mass
protests and demonstrations expected to occur in September.
in The Jerusalem Post, the IDF has drawn up plans to issue emergency call-up
orders to reservists who might be needed to beef up security along Israel’s
borders next month.
IDF sources said the call-up orders would be issued
per operational requirements, but in the meantime it was training reservists in
The IDF has also embarked on a multimillion
dollar procurement plan for new riot control equipment to deal with possible
protests along the country’s borders following the Palestinian bid for
statehood. Current IDF assessments refer to the possibilities of a large
outbreak of violence or sporadic, large and non-violent marches towards Jewish
settlements or IDF checkpoints.
The new equipment is in addition to other
riot gear like tear gas, rubber bullets and protective equipment, as well as new
technological systems such as the “Scream,” a device that emits penetrating
bursts of sound that leave protesters dizzy and nauseous, as well as the “Skunk
Bomb,” which contains a foulsmelling liquid sprayed on protesters.
of these devices have been used to disperse anti-security barrier demonstrations
in the past in the West Bank.
Also, senior Palestinian Authority
officials have issued orders this week to PA security forces to stop
demonstrations from turning violent, the Maan News Agency
Palestinian Authority security services spokesman Adnan Dmairi
called on Palestinians to hold “peaceful, public” protests without
Barak revealed Tuesday that he recently spoke with PA President
Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to coordinate ways to minimize
potential violence in September.
“You can never be fully prepared for
every scenario but we are engaged in a serious and comprehensive process of
preparation,” he said during a tour of a naval ship in Haifa. “I have also
spoken with the PA leadership – with Abbas and Fayyad – about the need to behave
responsibly.”Herb Keinon contributed to this report.