The Shin Bet's Involvement in the Protest Against the Coup D'état
On June 28, 2023, we addressed (Hebrew)the head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, following reports of the Shin Bet's involvement in monitoring activists of the protest against the coup d'état. According to the reports, this involvement peaked with the summoning and investigation of a key activist in the protest - an investigation that was carried out by the police at the request of the Shin Bet. The activist was arrested at home, taken in for questioning, and later released without conditions.
In our appeal, Attorney Gil Gan-Mor, the Director of Social and Civil Rights Units, pointed out that the Shin Bet is entrusted with suppressing and preventing threats to national security and the democratic order, such as terrorism, sabotage, espionage, and revealing state secrets. Following the petition (Hebrew) by the association, the Shin Bet was obligated not to use its authority to summon protest activists for warning conversations, except in cases of genuine suspicion linked to the core tasks of the Shin Bet.
Even if the protest activities against the coup involve breaking the law, such as road blockades, they do not even come close to meeting the definition of an actual threat of subversion, as defined by the Shin Bet itself, and do not justify its intervention. The protest activities are not secretive but open and shared with hundreds of thousands. They do not stem from an ideology of harming national security or the democratic regime. On the contrary, the protest is aimed at defending the democratic order. So far, the protest activities have not posed any risk to national security or the foundations of the democratic regime, which cannot be said about the government's activities against which the protest is being held.
The swift exercise of suppression authority, whether by Shin Bet investigators or by the police, has a severe chilling effect on the exercise of the right to protest and demonstrate, discouraging people from participating in legitimate actions in a democratic regime. This is particularly true when the Shin Bet resorts to extreme measures such as arrests. Therefore, we asked the head of the Shin Bet to instruct all employees of the organization to respect the right to protest and to refrain from unjustified intervention during the protest events.
Appeal of the Association for Civil Rights, 28.6.2023 (Hebrew)