Minors hand out leaflets, 29.10.09.
Minors hand out leaflets, 29.10.09.Israel news photo: Flash 90

The state prosecution demanded unprecedentedly harsh punishment in a charge sheet against six minor girls who demonstrated outside the home of former Yehudah and Shomron (Judea and Samaria) Division Commander Maj.-Gen. Noam Tibon.

According to the charge sheet, the six girls were guilty of “insulting a public servant” and “invading the privacy” of Tibon -- charges that are rarely punished with actual jail time. Yet the state prosecution demands that the minor girls be incarcerated.

Attorney Chaim Cohen, who represents one of the girls, has filed a request to the President of the Magistrates' Court for Youth in Tel Aviv, Judge Galit Mor-Vigotsky, to annul the charge sheet. Cohen, who is also the legal adviser to the Organization for Human Rights in Yesha, argued that the charge sheet constitutes discriminatory law enforcement, an infringement upon freedom of speech, and a waste of the court's time.

'A basic constitutional right'

The attorney claimed that the charge sheet was filed solely due to “foreign considerations” and constituted an attempt to prevent the residents of Yehudah and Shomron from demonstrating by striking fear into their hearts. 

Cohen pointed out that indictments had not been filed in several similar cases involving leftist protesters. Last year dozens of adult anarchists and other leftists were arrested for demonstrating outside the home of Binyamin Brigade commander Colonel Aviv Reshef, whom the protesters termed a "murderer" and "war criminal," but none faced charges.

"Freedom of expression is a basic constitutional right and has special importance in a democratic regime, especially when the expression has a political nature,” he maintained. “The true test of freedom of expression is in the ability to express views that are outside the consensus, even if they anger many people in the public, including the Israeli Left.”

This holds doubly true with regard to minors, he added. When it comes to young people “who are at the beginning of their road as citizens in a democratic state, the use of freedom of expression must be encouraged and not suppressed.”