On January 11, 2023, the Association for Civil Rights filed a petition (Hebrew) to the Supreme Court, demanding that the Ministry of Transportation instruct Israel Railways to immediately cease detaining passengers at railway stations or preventing them from using railway services due to their attire or carrying political content or content that is a subject of dispute, or carrying protest material.
The petition was filed following a series of incidents in which railway security personnel prevented passengers from entering stations due to wearing shirts with political slogans or carrying protest signs, claiming that this could lead to provocations. In response to the ACRI's inquiries, the Ministry of Transportation stated that, in its view, the railway is not authorized to infringe upon freedom of expression and prevent travel based on political expressions and protests, except in clear and extreme cases of racism or incitement to violence. Nevertheless, Israel Railways continued to act unlawfully, declaring that protests or entry into stations with protest materials of any kind were not allowed.
In the petition, it is argued that the railway's policy is in violation of the Anti-Discrimination Law, which prohibits discrimination in access to a public place or in the provision of services in a public place, among other things, based on appearance or party affiliation. It is also claimed that Israel Railways is not authorized to prohibit the entry of passengers to stations based on political expressions. It is further argued that delays, prohibitions, and detentions by public authorities due to political expressions clearly violate the principle of freedom of expression, which is at the heart of democracy.
After the petition was filed, the railway issued guidelines that limit attire in certain cases and instruct security personnel to prevent protests at stations and the carrying of signs. On September 4, 2023, the railway informed the court that it had ceased to implement these guidelines shortly after they were published, and had now also removed them from its website. The railway stated that it accepts the guidelines set by the Legal Advisor to the Government regarding the exercise of freedom of expression and protest in public spaces. Therefore, we requested the deletion of the petition.
The verdict (deletion of the petition), 12.9.2023 (Hebrew)
Supreme Court Case No. 342/23: The Association for Civil Rights in Israel vs. the Ministry of Transportation and Road Safety
Attorneys: Reut Shaer and Oded Feller