Social justice activist questioned despite ban

Public housing rights activist, single mother receives summons by phone to appear for questioning by J'lem police.

VICKI VANUNU (photo credit: Courtesy Arik Ascherman/Rabbis for Ruman Rights)
(photo credit: Courtesy Arik Ascherman/Rabbis for Ruman Rights)
Police questioned and searched the apartment of a social justice activist in Jerusalem despite a ban that Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch issued on such police tactics, activists said Wednesday.
Vicki Vanunu, a public housing rights activist and single mother, received a summons by phone to appear for questioning by the Jerusalem police, a day after social justice activists slammed police for issuing requests for questioning five lead activists in the center of the country.
“She was asked about a local protest planned for tomorrow, and accused of illegal activity,” a statement by social justice activists said on Wednesday. “Officers said they wanted to arrive at her home and carry out a search without a warrant.”
Vanunu permitted police to search her home “to prove her innocence,” the statement said, adding that police, who were searching for torches they believed would be used in Thursday’s rally, found nothing incriminating.
Police said that Vanunu was planning a public housing protest on Thursday without a proper permit.
“In a democratic state, police do not investigate protesters for planning a demonstration, and certainly does not ask to search their houses in order to locate materials used for demonstrations,” said Laila Margalit, an attorney for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel.
Vanunu became one of the driving forces behind the social justice protests in Jerusalem over the summer, and is still an activist with the “Ma’abara” housing activism forum.
“We view with severity the police’s attempt to torpedo the democratic rights of local activists to protest against ongoing discrimination against them,” the activists said.
Earlier Wednesday, the public security minister contacted the deputy police commissioner, Cmdr. Yisrael Yitzhak, and ordered him to cease questioning activists over future actions.
On Tuesday, Tamir Hgage, 44, of Kfar Saba, who was also summoned for police questioning, told The Jerusalem Post he had never broken any law and always held legal protests in the dozens of events he has organized.
“This [summons] was [meant] to scare me,” he said.