Police at protest, illustration
Police at protest, illustrationIsrael Police

The Constitution Committee of the Knesset convened Monday to discuss the means by which law enforcement handles protests and threats against public figures, with emphasis on the policy of arrests, opening investigations, and pressing charges.

During the meeting, a heated argument broke out between bereaved families and families of hostages, and Committee Chairman Simcha Rothman had to call for two recesses.

‘’We as a state need to ensure that the state is being managed according to the law and rules. We could find ourselves in a situation where anyone can block traffic for what they believe to be a just cause. Ultimately, a state cannot run like that. we need an effective and uniform enforcement policy,’’ he said.

‘’This meeting was intended to deal with protests in areas including roads and the associated incidents, such as assaulting the police. Similarly, we must address the subject of threats, which frequently escalate into incidents.’’

He claimed that the trigger for the meeting was an article that described an unusually harsh sentence for a letter to the court service management with extremely graphic threats against a female judge.

‘’I did not understand why statements sent to MKs, which were passed on to the Knesset Guard, were not addressed in any way. I would like to understand what the system and considerations were and who ensures that things are being done for professional reasons and no other consideration.’’

MK Tally Gotliv declared that the right to protest was an elementary matter: “I disagree with the clever abilities of the protest leaders to use the pain of the families in a cynical manner, including that of MK Lazimi, who called the police a militia. An extreme and radical minority of left-wing protesters who are funded and supported, in the best case, by the USA, and intend to collapse the government, is bringing us to extreme transgressions.”

MK Gilad Kariv clarified that the meeting was not about police violations of the law but rather against protests against the government. “We cannot ignore the fact that the minister responsible sat in a television studio and stated that he would support police being investigated for violence.”

“The investigation of police brutality is the responsibility of the Department for Investigation of Police, which is part of the State Prosecution, and so is within the jurisdiction of the Constitution Committee. We see protests from both sides and no lack of violations of the law in Judea and Samaria, and so I would like to know how many detentions and arrests of protesters have been carried out, and how many police reports have been filed as sorted by place and protest. How many times have water cannons been used on protesters and how many complaints were filed with the department for the investigation of police for police brutality against protesters, and what is the status of those complaints? There is selective enforcement that over just the last few months has begun to reverse direction.”

Shahar Mor, whose uncle Avraham Munder is held hostage in Gaza, stated: ‘’I am constantly fighting for my uncle. Over the last 7 months, I have been spat on, struck, and cursed countless times. I have five open investigations against me. Those that we meet in the street are a militia run by Ben-Gvir, not a police force or a statutory body that receives its Authority from the law. Wherever there is no senior officer to take control, we are beaten. In ten separate cases, those who attacked me were not arrested.”

Einav Zangauker, whose son Matan was taken hostage, declared, ‘’We return home bruised black and blue. I would like Minister Ben-Gvir to stop giving a pat on the back to officers who act violently and attempting to speed along their promotion. It is unreasonable that we return home covered in bruises, or be arrested and charged, and as opposed to fighting for our loved ones we are dragged between police stations. How is there an MK here promoting violence against me outside? When she calls me an anarchist or a Kaplan protester and sits here in the committee two seats away, how can she possibly not apologize to me? If I had insulted her, I would have lowered my head and apologized. How can she be so brazen as to call me a terrorist on Twitter?’’

Attorney Menashe Yado from the Honenu legal aid organization noted that, ‘’In 2022 and 2023, charges for illegal assembly were filed only against the haredi community - the least protected demographic.’’

Mk Rothman answered, ‘’I would like the police and prosecution to provide a breakdown of the data, as there are things here that should disturb everyone. If there were so many illegal assemblies and charges were filed against only one demographic, that is a serious issue.’’