Lawyers urge Attorney-General to enforce civil rights during protests – Israel Politics

Lawyers Daniel Hacklai and Idan Seger from the Constitutional Law and Human Rights Forum at the Israel Bar Association sent a letter on Tuesday night to the Attorney-General and Legal Adviser to the Government, Gali Bahrav-Miara, and the Legal Adviser of the Police, Deputy Superintendent Elazar Kahana, calling for an “urgent assessment of the escalation and false arrests of demonstrators against the Israeli government and the extent of police violence against them.”

“Many disturbing elements existed throughout the period of anti-judicial reform protests that preceded October 7, 2023,” the letter reads at the beginning.

“But they have become infinitely more disturbing, infinitely more violent, and infinitely more frightening since the renewal of anti-judicial reform protests, combining the demand for the return of the hostages from the Gaza Strip and the demand for ousting the government.”

The forum referred to police violence against male and female protesters and described severe cases of unjustified injuries inflicted on citizens by police officers.

“It is about grabbing protesters by their hair, throwing protesters to the ground, a policeman whipping protesters on the head who did nothing wrong,” he said.

They also noted cases such as “dragging protesters without justification, breaking a protester’s leg by horse trampling, pushing older protesters whose only sin was standing on the sidewalk, injuring many protesters in a variety of ways.”

Israeli police are seen spraying skunk water outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, on June 17, 2021. (credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)

In the letter, they emphasized the increasing use of skunk water and stun grenades and demanded that the attorney general “order the Commissioner of the Israel Police as well as the Legal Counsel of the Israel Police to issue clear and uniform orders to all Israel Police districts and all Israel Police stations according to which the set written below is absolutely prohibited and that the police officers must once again adhere to the rule of law and human and citizen rights.”

“This conduct characterizes dictatorships”

In the letter, they mentioned a particularly serious offense – police officers preventing the lawyers from entering the station. “This is unacceptable; the lawyer is a professional who has a role enshrined in law,” it says. “This is intolerable conduct that has no place in a democratic regime. This conduct characterizes dictatorships.”

In the letter, they mentioned the Hadera police station, where police processed the protesters from demonstrations in Caesarea near Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house.

“We have testimonies from lawyers on behalf of the organization representing those arrested in the protest, according to which police officers prevented them from entering the Hadera police station several times and even spoke to them very rudely,” they said in the forum.

In addition, we noted a common practice present in police stations that violates the obligation to hold an immediate meeting between the arrested or detained person and a lawyer.

At the forum, they emphasized that the violation of the protesters’ rights, primarily the false arrests, received severe criticism from the justices of the peace. However, things continued and even escalated.

“We remind you that several decisions were recently issued by the magistrates’ courts in which the judges warned that these are illegal arrests and that this is a prolonged deprivation of liberty without any legal grounds,” commented the forum.

“These are arrests based on a desire to take revenge on the protesters,” the lawyers noted.

“More than once, the arrests were based on false memos on behalf of the police that contradicted the content of the videos lawyers presented to the judges in the hearing on extending detention.”

In addition, the letter referred to serious offenses committed by the police officers, such as avoiding strict protection of the rights of minors being interrogated, waiting for hours before entering the interrogation, and detention throughout the night as an illegal means of punishment.

At the end of the letter, they turned to Gali Baharav-Miara and asked to act immediately to correct the mentioned violations.

“We would like to thank the Attorney-General for his immediate action on this issue. There is a renewed urgency to fight these events since this is a significant and illegal violation of human and citizen rights in the deepest and most dangerous sense.”

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