Analysis: Do police have a right to disregard a court ruling?

How could the right-wing march to Umm el-Fahm have been canceled after it was approved by the High Court?

ben gvir marzel read 248.88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
ben gvir marzel read 248.88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
From a legal point of view, how could the police cancel the march by right-wing extremists in Umm el-Fahm after it was approved by the High Court of Justice? On October 29, Justices Edmond Levy, Elyakim Rubinstein and Yoram Danziger ruled that "following [an earlier] High Court decision, we suggested to the police that they agree to hold the march along the route they had proposed [and later, in view of the riots in Acre, opposed], all of which is located within Umm el Fahm's city limits. The petitioners agreed to this route and all that is left for us is to give our seal of approval." The only qualifications that the court made regarding its ruling was that the date of the march would have to be worked out between the police and the organizers and that it would not take place until after the November 11 local council elections. These conditions were met. The police and the organizers agreed that the march would be held on December 15. However, according to University of Haifa Prof. Emmanuel Gross, an expert on criminal law, the court's decision was based on the circumstances existing on the day it was made. But it is the police who are responsible for public safety and if they determine that conditions have subsequently changed and that the march would now pose a serious danger to public order and safety, they have the authority to prevent it from taking place. There have been similar situations in the past. For example, the police have frequently rejected requests for permits by the Temple Mount Faithful to march or pray on the Temple Mount. In such cases, the organization consistently petitions against the police refusal to the High Court. In at least one case, the court overruled the police and determined that the march could take place. However, it added a proviso that the police could cancel the march at the last minute if it determined that it posed a grave threat to public order and security. In the case of Umm el-Fahm, the court did not make such a proviso. But according to Gross, it is understood that the police are obliged to take preventive action if they believe there is a danger of bloodshed, as they maintain there is in this case. Far-right activists Itamir Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel have already filed a contempt of court petition against the police. In response, the police will likely argue that they did not cancel the march but only postponed it until circumstances change and the march would not be so dangerous.