According to a directive issued Saturday night, January 18, by far-right Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, from now on the Israeli military can make use of wholesale administrative restraining orders to ban Israeli peace activists from entering the occupied West Bank.
This marks the first time the Defense Ministry has determined that blanket injunctions can be used against anti-occupation activists. In the past, there have been isolated instances in which individual activists and groups (like Breaking the Silence and Combatants for Peace) were banned from specific areas of the West Bank for certain periods of time.
Until now, indiscriminate injunctions were a tool the Defense Ministry used to clamp down on settlers and racist extremists suspected of terrorist activities, or of “Price Tag” attacks against Palestinians. Bennet’s all-inclusive directive therefore represents a dramatic change in policy. The extreme-right Bennett also specifically instructed the army and the Shin Bet (Israel’s Internal Security Service) to draft an administrative order against Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak, who is already under arrest.
Immediately following the announcement by the Defense Ministry, MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash – Joint List) tweeted his opposition to the move. “In response to Bennett’s false public relations statement that anti-occupation activists were acting violently, I instructed activists tonight to continue their nonviolent and just struggle.”
The Israeli-Palestinian group Combatants for Peace accused Defense Minister Bennett of maneuvering to help his election campaign by harming efforts to combat the occupation. The organization stated that even if Bennett issues 100 orders against activists, Israelis and Palestinians will continue to stand together for a better future for both sides. This is the time for those “with a conscience” to join the solidarity activities that take place every week in the occupied territories,” the movement said.