Report claims government abuses against anti-disengagement protesters

"Israel's law enforcement authorities engaged in widespread and systematic abuses of the civil rights of opponents of disengagement and of due process in prosecuting those accused of violating the law," claims a new report released by two right-wing organizations. The report, entitled "Israeli Government Violations of Disengagement Opponents' Civil Rights" was published by the Israel Policy Center and Honenu Legal Defense Association. According to the authors, attorney Itzhak Bam, Yitzhak Klein and Shmuel Meidad, "the phenomenon documented in this report did not occur in a vacuum, were not the acts of rogue cops, rogue prosecutors or rogue judges, but were the consequence of the policy of Israel's law enforcement and judicial systems." The authors added that they had not discovered "direct instructions by the Attorney General, the Minister of Justice or the Supreme Court to silence legal dissent or beat up people." However, they charged that "official directives, judgments of the Supreme Court and public statements by the heads of the legal system" encouraged the view that "civil and due process rights of opponents of the government's policy deserved short shrift, and to signal to the police that these rights might be violated with impunity." The prime culprits in violating the human rights of the protesters, the report said, were the Attorney General and the judiciary. "The state prosecution service and the judiciary chose to see protest against disengagement as a form of rebellion and authorized harsh measures against those taking part in it. Police were all but promised immunity from punishment for violations of the rights of disengagement's opponents, and accordingly gave those rights little respect." The report charged that, in its early rulings, the Supreme Court set the tone for the attitude of the lower courts throughout the disengagement process by referring to acts of protest as "ideological crimes." It also accused the courts of "setting aside" the terms of the arrest law by improperly holding protesters in detention after their arrest. "Pre-trial detention was imposed not in a few or in exceptional cases, but massively and systematically," the authors charged, adding that this was done to intimidate and deter the protesters. The report included case studies of different types of alleged human rights violations including extended detentions and police brutality toward minors, police brutality in other situations, false arrest and violations of prisoners' rights and of due process, the allegedly unjustified involvement of the GSS in fighting the protest movement and suppression of legal dissent. Klein, one of the report's authors, told The Jerusalem Post the report will soon be published in Hebrew.