Undercover police officers are posing as protesters at rallies against the government overhaul in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to collect information on those attending the demonstrations, the Haaretz daily reported. The report said protesters last week in Jerusalem noticed an undercover officer in their midst, carrying an Israeli flag, a symbol of the protest movement. The cop had been at a protest earlier in the day, clearly identified as an officer, before attending the second protest ostensibly trying to blend in with the crowd.
Young Communist League activists marching in Tel-Aviv with red flags, Saturday evening, March 11, 2023 (Photo: Zo Haderech)
The report said that the crowd in Tel Aviv at a protest last week also identified what they thought was a police officer who had “infiltrated.” On both occasions, the alleged police officers apparently refused to identify themselves when challenged — under policing procedures, an officer is allowed to maintain their cover if there may be a risk to safety or if breaking cover may impact their chances of making arrests.
Ann Suciu of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel told the newspaper that the practice of using undercover police officers was not appropriate for the non-violent rallies, which have only seen pockets of scuffles between protesters and police, with both sides charging that the other instigated. “Even if there are extremely unusual cases that justify the use of undercover police officers, it is clear that this method, which is usually intended for dealing with serious crime, is not suitable for dealing with non-violent demonstrations,” she said.
Earlier this month, police used stun grenades and water cannons against demonstrators who blocked a key junction in Tel Aviv during the March 1 “day of disruption.” Mass protests against the government’s controversial plans to remake the judicial system, radically weakening its powers to act as a check against the political leadership, have been ongoing for 10 weeks. According to the Haaretz report, the undercover officers are relaying information in real-time about the protesters, rather than just observing.