A bill to levy a NIS10,000 fine against those who publicly wave or hang the flag of a terror organization received preliminary approval in a 50-28 vote in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.
“Incitement to terrorism creates an atmosphere that influences individuals and organizations to commit [further] acts of terrorist,” said Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) who spoke in support of the bill introduced by Religious Zionist MK Zvi Sukkot.
“The main source of a terrorist organization’s power is the propaganda it produces, and that is what we are fighting,” Sukkot said.
Terror flags and images of terrorists in public deemed illegal
Waving terror flags or the public posting of photographs of terrorists is already a criminal act in Israel, punishable by three or four years of imprisonment.
But enforcement has been difficult and infrequent.
Sukkot, therefore, authored a bill that would provide police with the administrative tool of levying a fine, something that could be done on the spot, akin to the way a parking ticket is handed out.
The law would allow the fine to be doubled for the second offense. Fines would only be levied against those waving flags representing groups on the Defense Ministry’s list of terror organizations and would include groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. It would not include the Palestinian Authority.
But opponents of the bill fear that it opens the door to such a scenario and the bill is part of a push by the government to limit free speech.
MK Ofir Kasif (Hadash-Ta’al) said that the Palestinian flag belonged to the Palestinian people and not to any singular organization.
Those who put forward this law, he said, want to “eliminate the Palestinian people, if not physically, at least symbolically.”
The bill has the support of the government. It must pass three readings and receive the approval of a number of committees before it passes into law.