Menashe Yado
Menashe YadoIsrael National News

Attorney Menashe Yado of the Honenu legal aid organization wrote to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to request that he order police not to confiscate mobile phones from civilians recording the demolition of homesteads in Judea and Samaria.

His letter comes as a result of the demolition of Sde Yonatan homestead this week, which included extensive use of force by police against residents of the farm. The residents’ mobile phones were confiscated immediately at the beginning of the demolition.

The letter notes that confiscating mobile phones is against the law and the Minister is obliged to enforce the law regarding police officers under his Ministry’s authority. “This week, Sde Yonatan was demolished. According to media reports you have severely criticized the Defense Minister over what you termed ‘destruction of settlements instead of building.’ Nevertheless, confiscation of mobile phones by the Border Police at the beginning of the demolition is under your ministerial responsibility.”

“It is no secret that for several years, you have worked to protect settlers on the legal front, and you know I do as well. I cannot remember an incident like this, which happened again in two other demolitions this week, in which Border Police deliberately collected the mobile phones of all those being evicted at the beginning of the demolition and prevented them from recording. There is no need to explain that such a confiscation is illegal and outside the guidelines of Section 32 of the criminal code. In light of the considerable sensitivity around the issue of recording, there has been a clear call recently by Dr. Yoav Sapir, the chief public defender, to give a clear and unequivocal instruction to the Israel Police to protect to an extreme degree the right of the citizen to document police enforcement activity.”

Yado claims in his letter that the confiscation of mobile devices led to the police officers using extreme violence against the residents of the area: “According to testimony from the residents of the homestead, Border Police entered the room in the early hours of the morning, took all mobile phones from them, and cut off any attempt to record the incident before it could begin. The result was not long in coming - the eviction was carried out in an abusive manner. The area had no cameras, and under cover of darkness, it was possible to beat those being evicted, force them to put on warm clothing, force them outside, to order them to sit in mud, to force them to do so when they refused, to slap and punch them. Everything is allowed when nothing is supervised.”

He appealed to Minister Ben-Gvir to clarify to all those under his authority that it was forbidden to confiscate mobile phones without legal approval and to work to investigate the incident: “An incident like this, in which mobile phones were snatched in an organized manner by orders issued before the operation began, is an incident unheard of to me. This is a bleak incident contrary to the law and accepted norms, and normalizes violence, police willfulness, cruelty, and degradation. It is the kind of incident reserved, as far as I know, for young Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria. As I mentioned previously, it was done under your Ministry’s authority. I will thank you for an immediate publication of a clarification of the fundamentals of your Ministry, according to which there is to be no confiscation of mobile devices or cameras from people in a manner contrary to the police guidelines attached herein. I will thank you for investigating the matter and producing a personal debriefing from this incident.”