Hadash and CPI Petition the Supreme Court Against Police Ban on Protests

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, submitted Monday a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of Hadash (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) and the Communist Party of Israel. The petition demands the cancellation of the police’s decision not to grant permits for protests scheduled to be held this week in the cities of Umm Al-Fahm and Sakhnin, as well as the cancellation of a sweeping directive issued by the Police Commissioner prohibiting demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and in protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza. The petition was submitted by Adalah’s General Director, Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen, and Adalah’s Legal Director, Dr. Suhad Bishara.

In 2019, Adalah represented Hadash lawmakers at the Supreme Court against attempts to disqualify them from the Knesset elections. From right to left: Adalah’s General Director, Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen and Hadash MKs Aida Touma-Sliman, Ofer Cassif and Youssef Jabareen (Photo: Adalah)

The police refused to authorize a planned demonstrations organized by Hadash and CPI under the title “Against the War and for a Just Peace,” in Umm Al-Fahem, stating that “the protest would almost certainly lead to a significant and serious disruption of public order.” The police also rejected a request to hold a march in Sakhnin in the north of Israel, under the title of “Stop the War” planned for last Saturday, without providing any reasons for the rejection. The Umm Al-Fahem protest was scheduled to take place on Tuesday. Therefore, in light of the urgency, the petition also seeks an interim order.

This follows a directive issued by the Israeli Police Commissioner to reject all permits for demonstrations in support of the Palestinian people in Gaza. This policy was detailed in a statement made by the Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai on October 17 during a briefing in the Northern District of the Police. He stated, “Anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome; I will put them on buses now that are headed there and I will help them get to Gaza.” 

The effect of the Commissioner’s directive became evident in the days that followed during the demonstrations in Haifa and Umm al-Fahem against Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which were forcefully dispersed by the police.

In the petition, Adalah argued that the decision to prohibit protests, along with the sweeping ban imposed by the Police Commissioner, infringes the fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and protest, political freedom of expression, and the right to equality. Adalah further argued that the police is seeking to pre-emptively censor legitimate political expression, solely based on the police’s disapproval of the protesters’ cause. Such censorship is evidently motivated by ideological or political considerations.

“It is even more crucial to uphold the fundamental freedoms of protest and political expression during times of war. However, it is becoming alarmingly evident that the current restrictions, which target Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and all those who oppose Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, not only serve to quash dissent but also to label any form of Palestinian protest as illegitimate,” Adalah added. 

Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=31295