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Nationalists Indicted for Illegal Protest

Three young men have been indicted for blocking highways in protest of the planned eviction of Jews from Gaza in 2005.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/19/2008, 9:12 PM

Three founders of the “National Home” (HaBayit HaLeumi) movement have been indicted for organizing illegal protests against the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif in 2005. The Jerusalem District Court ruled that the three will be charged with rioting, sedition, incitement and preventing a police officer from performing his duties.

The three founders who have been charged are Shai Malka, Ariel Vangruber and Adiel Sharabi. The three played a crucial role in organizing protests that included clashes with police officers and the blocking of highways, judges ruled.

"[Malka, Vangruber and Sharabi] were the ones who planned the protests, decided when they would take place and how... They planned the criminal activities and set them in motion; without them, the plans would not have come to fruition,” the judges ruled. While the three defendants were not the only ones calling to block highways and disturb the peace in protest of the plan to expel Jews from Gaza, they still bear responsibility, judges said.

The case will now return to the Jerusalem Magistrates Court. The Magistrates Court had decided to cancel indictments against the three last year, a decision that state attorneys appealed to the District Court.

In deciding to cancel the indictments, Justice Rachel Shalev-Gertal said, “The defendants' behavior was not unusual at that time. Public figures, rabbis, Members of Knesset and others called on those opposed to the Disengagement plan to go out and protest and take actions that are no different, and perhaps even more drastic.” Major public figures and rabbis did not manage to rally as many people as the three defendants were accused of gathering, she said, telling prosecutors, “You will have to prove how these three defendants managed to get 10,000 out into the streets.”

The National Home group organized a protest in May 2005 in which demonstrators blocked highways. Police and protesters clashed when officers came to drag break up the demonstration, and 400 were arrested.

The charge of sedition is more serious than most charges against anti-Disengagement protesters. This charge is rarely used, and has been criticized by several legal action organizations, including the Israel Democracy Institute.