ACRI Petition: Stop Confiscation of Anti-War Signs by Police at Demonstrations

The Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) petitioned the High Court of Justice, Thursday, April 11, together with two anti-war demonstrators, demanding that the civilians be allowed to carry signs against the war in Gaza with slogans against the mass killing of civilians in Gaza, or those accusing the State of Israel, or elements within it or on its behalf, of committing war crimes or crimes against humanity in Gaza (including genocide), or any other similar wording.

Cops violent snatching of signs during a demonstration at Paris Square in Jerusalem against the systemic starvation and constant bombing of the people of Gaza, March 22, 2024 (Photo: Free Jerusalem)

The petition was filed after a long series of demonstrations and protest held across the country in recent months, in which the police systematically prevented demonstrators from waving signs and holding a protest. Harassment of demonstrators included violent snatching of signs by police, tearing them apart, confronting demonstrators holding signs or chanting slogans, dispersing the protest solely because of the messages the demonstrators carry or express, and even making arrests.

The petition argued that waving the signs does not constitute a criminal offense of supporting the enemy in time of war, identification with a terrorist organization, etc., and the fear that such messages will offend public sentiment is not enough to limit them. Therefore, the police do not have the authority to prohibit and confiscate their display. “Expressions that are difficult to digest, incisive and infuriating are also protected under the right to freedom of expression, and the police are required not only to prevent harm to them, but to protect them from those who may try to silence them,” the petition states.