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  • ACRI

Allow a Demonstration Calling for an End to the War

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice (Hebrew) on January 17, 2024, demanding that a demonstration of the "The Peace Partnership" which is coalition of various organizations be held in Haifa, calling for an end to the war, a deal to return hostages, and advance a political solution. The petition was filed after the police refused the organizers' requests three times.


The petition was filed on behalf of some of the organizers of the demonstration: Amjad Shbita, Secretary General of the Hadash movement; Orit Biderman Pe'er, an activist in the "Cry of Mothers" group, which brings together about 800 mothers of fighters calling for an end to the war and the return of the hostages; Yaakov Gudo, a bereaved father whose son was murdered during the October 7th Massacre in Kissufim and one of the founders of the Bereaved Families encampment in front of the Knesset; and Galia Aviani, an activist in the organization "Isha L'Isha – Haifa Feminist Center".


ACRI argued that the police's refusal to approve the demonstration is part of the systematic conduct that has characterized the police in recent months, and is reflected in the suppression of protest, even very small ones, of those portrayed as left-wing supporters who want to protest the continuation of the war, government policy and failures, or who call for a ceasefire. It was also noted that since the beginning of the war, the police have consistently refused to approve demonstrations with a permit, that the Arab public wishes to hold. It was argued that preventing the demonstration from being held because of the content of the demonstration and the identity of the demonstrators is illegal and disproportionately violates freedom of expression.


The day after the petition was filed, a hearing was held in the High Court of Justice. The Attorney General announced that she did not accept the police's position. The police claimed that there was intelligence about intentions to harass demonstrators, and the judges made it clear that it was forbidden to give into threats by those trying to thwart demonstrations. At the end of the hearing, the police announced that they were withdrawing their refusal and that the demonstration would take place in Haifa and would be limited to 700 participants.


The ruling that anchored the agreement stated: "We cannot conclude our remarks without mentioning the things that should be obvious: the possibility of holding a demonstration is not a special privilege, but a basic right. This is also true in wartime, even if practical aspects may limit the scope of the license granted. Likewise, threats of violence by third parties cannot be used as a consideration that negates the possibility of demonstrating."

 

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