Israeli left-wing journalist released after arrest on suspicion of inciting terrorism

The Union of Journalists in Israel condemned the arrest, warning of a breach of freedom of the press.

Protester demanding release of journalist Israel Frey, December 27, 2022 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Protester demanding release of journalist Israel Frey, December 27, 2022
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Haredi left-wing journalist Israel Frey was arrested on Tuesday morning on suspicion of inciting terrorism and violence, according to Israel Police. Frey was released to his home later in the afternoon.

The police stated that they had received three complaints concerning two tweets by Frey, including one after IDF Military Policewoman Noa Lazar was killed in a terrorist attack in Shuafat stating "harming security forces is not terrorism" and another from November calling a terrorist arrested by police in Jaffa "a hero."

"Look what a hero is. He made it all the way from Nablus to Tel Aviv and even though all the Israelis around him somehow take part in oppressing, crushing and killing his own people - he still looked for legitimate goals and avoided harming the innocent. In a reformed world he would have received a medal," read the tweet by Frey.

In November, the State Attorney's Office approved the opening of an investigation and after several attempts to summon the journalist for questioning that were refused, the court issued an arrest warrant.

"I'm just asking to make sure there aren't any left here who are going to talk about 'stateliness' someday," wrote Frey on Twitter on Tuesday morning. "The ceremony is over. A good citizen is a traitor. A good man is an anarchist. A good Israeli is anti-government. In the face of fascism, apartheid and wrongful laws - our only rabbis are the values of equality, justice, compassion and love for all people. In their light we will go and win."

 Protester demands release of journalist Israel Frey, December 27, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Protester demands release of journalist Israel Frey, December 27, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Right-wing organizations welcome arrest

The B'Tsalmo organization welcomed Frey's arrest, stating "This is not a journalist but a person who incites violence, terrorism and murder. This man's place is behind bars and not in any public position. We will act so that the prosecutor's office and the police will exhaust the law against the terrorist supporter and he will be sent to prison for many years. No one is allowed to incite people to murder."

Attorney Menashe Yado from the Honenu organization also welcomed the arrest, stating "We must strive to exhaust the law with Frey in order to uproot from the discourse the distorted concepts expressed by Frey according to which there is a so-called legitimacy for this or that type of terrorism."

Journalist's union condemns arrest

The Union of Journalists in Israel condemned the arrest on Tuesday, stating "The arrest of Israel Frey points to a cultural decline on the part of the Israel Police and the State Attorney's Office." 

"In our view, his summons for questioning due to tweets covered under freedom of expression is a serious mistake, even if they are blatant and outrageous. Moreover, we view the practice of violent arrest very seriously."

The union noted that despite the fact that police had a warrant, the officers who contacted Frey posed as a journalistic source who wanted to meet under the guise of giving him information.

"The organization of male and female journalists does not support failure to appear for an investigation, if the journalist's summons is done according to the required rules, however, treating him as a dangerous criminal while impersonating is a serious violation of the freedom of the press."