Judge lashes out at police

Judge orders boys released after they were detained and distanced for protesting against Amona eviction.

Hillel Fendel,

Gavel (illustration)
Gavel (illustration)

Two minors were arrested and issued strict restraining orders after demonstrating last Friday against the planned eviction of Amona. District Court Justice Moshe Drori has now ordered them released, harshly criticizing the police for their attempt to muzzle free speech and for their ignorance of the law.

Judge Drori accepted the appeal filed on behalf of the two boys by Atty. Avichai Hajbi of the Honenu Civil Rights organization. He voided the orders distancing them from the entire Binyamin Region, north of Jerusalem, for a month – as well as an order placing one of the boys under house arrest.

The police inspector who appeared at the trial stated, "The police have the right to prevent a citizen, whom it suspects of violating the law by taking part in one illegal rally, from entering the area in which other rallies are to take place."

Judge Drori opened his ruling by saying, "This case forces me to start from the very beginning regarding civil rights in Israel… Let us state the fundamentals: Every person is permitted to do whatever is not forbidden him by law. Every person has the right to take part in a demonstration, as stated in Basic Law: Freedom of Speech."

Drori wondered aloud whether the police seek similarly harsh restrictions on university students and the like. He noted that it is likely that the police in this case were simply trying to prevent demonstrations against the scheduled destruction of Amona.

The judge also harshly criticized the police for not knowing the relevant legal precedents: "I innocently assumed that the police have a department for collecting information, and that every officer who is assigned to deal with demonstrations and protests is briefed on the concept of the right to protest, the limitations of police force, etc.

Honenu released the following statement following the ruling: "The court nipped in the bud the police intention to create a special law for Amona supporters… It also returned the police, and the lower court that approved the original orders, to norms of fair and reasonable responses to protests… We hope the police will carefully study this ruling and the criticism leveled against the police concerning freedom of speech and protest, and will implement the lessons in the field."