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  • ACRI

Improper Use of Undercover Police at Demonstrations

On May 22, 2024, we sent legal correspondence (Hebrew) to the Attorney General and the Attorney General of the Police requesting that they order the police to stop using undercover police officers in demonstrations – a phenomenon that has become very common in recent months. Testimonies and videos indicate that undercover police routinely act to suppress and disperse demonstrations. They walk among the demonstrators, document them on their cell phones, arrest those they perceive as leaders of the protests, and use force and violence against them in a shocking manner, without first revealing themselves as police officers.

The activity of the undercover police is usually directed at the demonstrators themselves and not at hostile elements that might harm the demonstrators. Undercover police officers often operate alongside uniformed police officers, yet they are the ones who carry out normal enforcement activities of detainment and arrest. Under these circumstances, the exercise of powers by undercover police officers is clearly unnecessary.

In the correspondence, Field and Freedom of Protest Coordinator Sivan Tahel and Attorney Reut Shaer argued that the use of undercover police officers posing as demonstrators, making arrests and documenting the demonstrators' activities, severely violates the demonstrators' freedom of expression and deters the entire public from exercising the right to demonstrate. This practice also clearly deviates from the general principles and duties of police officers to act openly when identified, both in uniform and with name identification. Even if there are very exceptional cases that justify the use of undercover police officers during demonstrations, this method, which is usually designed to deal with serious crimes, is certainly not worthy of dealing with nonviolent demonstrations, and cannot become a routine tool in light of the disproportionate violation of individual rights.

In 2012, we also sent legal correspondence to the police commissioner about the use of undercover police officers during the social protests. The police's response, from August 2013, clarified that undercover police officers are used only in exceptional cases, in which there is concern that offenses "external" to the protest (such as pickpocketing) are committed, and "when the assessment of the situation indicates a fear of offenses committed by the protesters themselves, such as offenses of incitement and sedition, violence, etc." Another correspondence on the same matter was sent to the Attorney General in 2020, and has not been answered to this day.



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