Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel

by Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel
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Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel
Protect the Protest in Palestine & Israel

Dear friends,

Greetings to you from Adalah.

In this update, we report on our new publication on the May 2021 events, also known as the “Dignity Uprising”, and how those extremely violent events and protests – which took place throughout Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory - laid the foundation for the current draconian policing practices by Israel’s new radical, right-wing government against Palestinian citizens of Israel (PCI).


Two years after the May 2021 events: Israel's use of excessive force and racial segregation against Palestinians continues

Two years after the May 2021 events, Adalah published a report that provides an in-depth understanding of the events and their implications within a broader system of oppression against Palestinians. During May 2021, the police violently dispersed peaceful protests by PCI without justification, clamping down on freedom of expression and assembly.Data obtained by Adalah demonstrates how the police and the State Attorney followed a clear two-tiered policy of racial discrimination, a segregated system of law enforcement, one for Palestinians and one for Jewish Israelis - in applying the law and filing indictments.

The report documents patterns of excessive use of force by Israeli police against Palestinian citizens of Israel,measures of surveillance and control, and violence by settlers and Jewish civilians in Israel with the collusion of state institutions to protect them. The report includes testimonies from dozens of protestors who were detained by police about the abuse and torture they endured inside and outside police stations, lawyers who were assaulted, and released prisoners. Adalah submitted testimonies as complaints to the Israeli Police Investigations Unit (“Mahash”), all of which were closed without exception, illustrating the sweeping impunity provided by the state.


Two Years After the May 2021 Events


Advancing the establishment of the 'National Guard'

One year after the May 2021 events, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced the establishment of a National Guard, a decision that is being advanced by the far-right Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir. The National Guard will be composed of Israel’s Border Police, army reservists, and civilian volunteers, who will be subordinate to the National Security Minister.

Adalah sent a letter on 2 April 2023 to the Attorney General, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of National Security, demanding that the government refrain from establishing this "National Guard”, as it will entrench the maintenance of two separate law enforcement systems based on ethnic and national affiliation, and institutionalize an extremely dangerous cooperation between armed Jewish-Israeli civilians and the police, as we witnessed during the May 2021 events.


Challenging new law subordinating police to national security minister Ben Gvir

Based on the new government’s coalition agreements, the Knesset on 27 December 2022 enacted a new amendment to the Police Ordinance, which, for the first time, grants the National Security Minister the authority to determine the police's policies and general principles of operation, including policies regarding investigations and setting “principled priorities”.

Adalah, on behalf of the High Follow Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court, in April 2023, demanding the new law’s cancellation, as it contradicts the rule of law.

At a Supreme Court hearing on this high-profile petition and others, on 7 June 2023, which was broadcast live on online Israeli news outlets, Adalah argued that Minister Ben Gvir's actions indicate that the new law is aimed at increasing racist law enforcement against Palestinians. These actions include, among other things, the Minister's directives to enforce a prohibition on raising the Palestinian flag in public areas and to increase home demolitions in East Jerusalem as a retaliatory action “in response to attacks”. The case remains pending.

Read Adalah’s position paper on the new government’s coalition agreements

Read Adalah’s position paper on the legality of displaying the Palestinian flag, amid a new bill to criminalize it


Adalah will continue to challenge the racist government policies and violent police practices in order to protect the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel for freedom of expression and assembly.


In solidarity,

Ranna Khalil and the Adalah team 


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Land Day march, 2010. Image by: Makbula Nassar
Land Day march, 2010. Image by: Makbula Nassar

Dear friends,

Many greetings to you from Adalah.

In December 2022, the most extreme far-right government in the history of Israel was sworn in. The new governing coalition immediately published its fundamental guiding principles, detailing how it will begin to realize and advance its racist agenda to entrench Jewish supremacy and Palestinian repression throughout Israel and the OPT.

The government plans to achieve its goals through provisions of the coalition agreements and guiding principles, which pose grave threats to the rights of Palestinians, including deepened political control over law enforcement and policing. On 28 December 2022, the Knesset passed a law that grants the newly appointed National Security Minister, the ultra-nationalist leader of the Jewish Power Party, full and direct control over law enforcement authorities. Before the law was enacted, Adalah sent letters challenging the bill, arguing that the law substantially expands the powers of the Minister, including in setting the police's policy, and will result in increased police violence against Palestinians.

The recent escalation in violence in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and in Israel is a continuation of the Israeli policies of repression, aided by recent intensified racial policing against Palestinians, which has resulted in more violent crackdown on protestors.

The National Security Minister has already started to exploit his expanded powers by issuing a sweeping directive that bans the raising of Palestinian flags and ordering the police to remove them in public spaces. In response, Adalah sent letters to the Ministry and the Attorney General demanding that they direct law enforcement authorities that the waving of the Palestinian flag, in itself, is not illegal under Israeli law. Adalah argued that the Minister's description of the Palestinian flag as a symbol of support of “terrorism" indicates that his directive illegally bans the waving of the Palestinian flag, in a sweeping manner and under all circumstances. Under the preexisting Police Ordinance (1971), the police have the authority to confiscate a flag only if it results in “disruption of public order or breach of peace”, but the ordinance does not grant authority to impose a sweeping ban on waving the Palestinian flag. Adalah noted in the letters that the directive is also contrary to previous Supreme Court decisions and the Deputy Attorney General's legal opinion. 

On 26 January 2023, the police violently arrested six protestors for raising the Palestinian flag during a protest in the city of Haifa, Israel against the military's killing of nine Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Among the detainees was an Adalah lawyer who was present at the protest to ensure that the police would not violate protesters’ rights and to provide counsel to protesters as to their right to wave the Palestinian flag. Following the protest, the police issued a statement explicitly stating that the arrests were made because the protestors refused to put down the Palestinian flags.

The police acted illegally by violating the legitimate rights of the demonstrators to protest and violently prevented them from realizing their rights to legal representation. The police's actions are yet another in a series of attempts to deprive Palestinians from expressing their national identity and to terrorize them through violence in order to deter them from protesting. 

Adalah will continue to challenge the racist policies and laws of the new government and to stand against the onslaught of the National Security Minister’s actions against Palestinians' right to protest.

In solidarity,

Ranna Khalil

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Dear Friends,

Warm greeting to you from Adalah.

This month Adalah marks the 22nd anniversary of the October 2000 killings, remembering the 13 unarmed Palestinians, 12 citizens of Israel and one resident of Gaza, killed by Israeli police forces at the beginning of the Second Intifada. In October 2000, as Palestinian citizens of Israel went out in mass protests in solidarity with Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the wider West Bank, Israeli police opened fire at protestors, shooting 13 dead and injuring hundreds of others.

Adalah represented the families of the 13 Palestinians killed by police before the Or Commission of Inquiry, and later before the Police Investigations Department (PID or “Mahash”) and the Attorney General, who sought justice, demanding that the police, police commanders, and political leaders be held accountable for the loss of their loved ones. But persisting in its long-standing policy of granting almost sweeping impunity to its police and other armed forces, and exempting them from criminal prosecution, the state failed to hold accountable those responsible for the killings.

More than two decades later, in May 2021, protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel were again met with mass arbitrary arrests and extreme violence by police forces, causing injuries to demonstrators. Despite many complaints against police brutality, excessive force and even torture of detained protestors, no police forces were held accountable for their actions. Adalah, on behalf of Palestinian citizens of Israel, filed several complaints to the Police Investigation Department (PID) against police brutality during the May 2021 events, but the cases were either closed, or are still pending investigation over a year later. In several cases, Adalah filed appeals.

Adalah continues to monitor protest and police brutality in the aftermath of the May 2021 events.

In January 2022, afforestation work by Israel Lands Authority (ILA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) in the Naqab sparked protests by Bedouin residents and human rights activists. Demonstrators here too were violently dispersed by the police, and subjected to mass arrests and detention. In response, Adalah sent an urgent letter to the police commissioner, the commander of the Southern District Police, the police commander of the Negev region, and the Attorney General (AG) demanding that they immediately order Israeli police forces to halt the use of violent, illegal and life-threatening means to disperse protests and to allow protests to continue.

More recently, the police demolished a protest tent set up by residents in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the Naqab to demonstrate against the discriminatory policies of the Bedouin Authority and the ILA in planning and building processes in the town, and their refusal to market plots for housing for local residents. Despite initially approving the protest tent following a request by the protest’s organizers, a few days later, on 22 September 2022, the police destroyed the tent. The forces also arrested and questioned many activists in relation to the protest tent. On the same day, Adalah sent a letter to police officials and the Attorney General requesting to permit the protest tent in Rahat and to refrain from taking any action intended to infringe on the residents' right to demonstrate.

Adalah will continue to represent Palestinian demonstrators in order to ensure their right for freedom of protest and expression – to Protect the Protest - and will continue to advocate for justice and accountability.

In solidarity,

Ranna Khalil

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Credit: Shai Kendler
Credit: Shai Kendler

Dear Friends and Supporters,


Warms regards from Adalah. In this update, we examine some of the protest cases one year after the May 2021 events, and recent issues surrounding the waiving of the Palestinian flag.


In May 2021, the police violently dispersed peaceful protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel (PCI) without justification, clamping down on freedoms of expression and assembly. Police arrested and detained hundreds of Palestinian citizen protestors, and used brutal, excessive force against many of them. Adalah’s lawyers, together with dozens of volunteer lawyers, represented arrested and detained Palestinian protesters. Adalah additionally filed numerous complaints to the Police Investigation Department (PID) (“Mahash”) concerning these events, most of which were either closed after an initial probe, resulting in no action against the police, or are still pending one year later, seriously undermining the possibility of an effective criminal investigation.


o   M.A.E., a Palestinian citizen of Israel, was severely injured by a stun grenade fired by police while she was filming the events during a protest in Haifa against the violence, held on 9 May 2021. The injury caused excessive bleeding and scarring, and for 30 minutes the police blocked an ambulance from accessing the location, endangering her life. Adalah filed a complaint on behalf of M.A.E. against the police, however, the Police Investigation Department (“Mahash”) decided to close the case. In May 2022, Adalah sent a letter demanding the investigation material from the police in order file an appeal.

o   On 13 May 2021, M.O., a resident of the Arab village of Tuba-Zangariyya, was dragged from his home by police forces. He was led to the grounds of the local council and left there, with his hands and feet cuffed, for several hours. When he asked to be released, police officers cursed at him and kicked him. He was brought to a police station in the middle of the night for questioning, and was denied access to a lawyer. Adalah filed a complaint to the PID in the case on 6 September 2021. The PID closed the case in December 2021, and Adalah filed an appeal against the closure.

o   Four people, including three minors (T.A.Z., aged 17, and Y.M. and A.A., both 12 years old), were injured in Jaffa-Tel Aviv by rubber bullets fired by police in May 2021, and one of them was hospitalized in an intensive care unit for sustaining severe wounds. The police fired randomly, and the injured minors were not participating in the protests but merely passing by. Adalah filed a complaint to the PID on 6 September 2021. The PID closed the case.

The PID’s refusal to initiate criminal investigations in cases of well-documented police brutality, and its lack of promptness in conducting initial probes, entrench Israel’s policy of near blanket impunity for its police for injuring and killing Palestinians, in the complete absence of accountability.

Police brutality recently made headlines again, particularly after the police beat mourners at the funeral of Palestinian Al-Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh, and prevented them from waving the Palestinian flag. The police attacked mourners who were holding Abu Akleh’s casket at the funeral procession, and even stormed the hospital where the body was held, firing tear gas and stun grenades, all in order to prevent participants from raising the Palestinian flag. In response to many inquiries regarding the police conduct during Abu Akleh’s funeral, Adalah published a Q&A about the legality of raising the Palestinian flag.


Waiving the Palestinian flag is not a crime under Israeli law, and after the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1994, the Israeli Attorney General advised against the opening of criminal investigations against individuals for waving the flag. However, in 2014, the Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Matters clarified that although raising the Palestinian flag is not criminalized, there is still no “absolute immunity” for raising the flag. Article 82 of the Police Ordinance (1971) grants the police the authority to confiscate a flag if it results in disruption of public order or breach of peace, and in these cases, an individual may be arrested or prosecuted.


The Israeli Supreme Court has not ruled on the scope of this authority by the police and several lower court rulings have permitted waving the flag as an act that is a part of the freedom of speech. In September 2021, the Magistrates Court in Jerusalem ruled that a protester in Jerusalem who was arrested for waving the Palestinian flag must be released from detention. The judge clarified that raising the Palestinian flag is not a criminal offense and that the police provided no explanation as to how raising the flag, in this instance, disrupted public order and safety.


A bill banning displaying the Palestinian flag at state funded institutions was approved by the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in a preliminary reading on 1 June 2022. The amendment to the Penal Law proposes that a gathering of people in entities supported by the state, such as universities, during which flags of enemy states or Palestinian flags are displayed publicly, will be defined as a prohibited assembly, and will be treated as a riot that can be dispersed (source: The Knesset official website).


This new bill followed a series of demonstrations held by students, Palestinian citizens of Israel, at Israeli universities during which they raised Palestinian flags in solidarity against recent aggressions by the police and military in Jerusalem and the West Bank.


Read more about where we stand one year after the May 2021 events, in Adalah’s newsletter:

Adalah’s News: One Year On for the May 2021 Events


Thank you for your continued support for Adalah’s work. We sincerely appreciate it.

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Afforestation work in the Naqab sparks protests and police violence

Last month mass protests broke out throughout the Naqab (Negev) in response to the planting of trees on land belonging to the Al-Atrash tribe in the Bedouin village of Sa'wa. The plantings – by the Israel Land Authority (ILA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) – were carried out under a heavily militarized police operation. Protestors were violently dispersed by the police, and subjected to mass arrest and detention.

The ILA decided to carry out the plantings, together with the JNF, on the land in Sa'wa for the purpose of “preserving” the land from Bedouin “trespassers”. The Al-Atrash tribe registered ownership claims for its ancestral land and has used it for agriculture for decades.

The Israeli government plants forests on Bedouin land in the Naqab through the JNF, as a way of expropriating the land and preventing Bedouin residents from living on it and using it for their livelihoods. Afforestation and the creation of nature reserves on Palestinian land have been used by the government both in Israel and in the OPT in order to restrict Palestinian land use and the development of towns and villages.


On 27 June 2022, Adalah sent a letter to the ILA, the Minister of Housing and Construction and to the Attorney General demanding that all afforestation work in the northern Naqab be stopped immediately, as it is illegal. Adalah argued that the ILA lacks the authority to carry out the plantings, which are often done on disputed land.

Following the protests, Adalah demanded that Israeli police stop using violent, life-threatening means, including live ammunition and tear gas dropped from drones, to disperse the demonstrations and allow the protests to continue. Adalah also demanded that the police remove roadblocks set up to prevent vehicles from entering Sa'wa, which severely restricted residents’ access to their homes and children’s ability to attend school, and allow a protest-tent, torn down by the police, to be rebuilt.

Marwan Abu Frieh, Adalah’s field researcher in the Naqab, told media outlets Ha’aretz (18 January 2022) and Middle East Eye (13 January 2022) that the police arrested many residents, including minors, during the protests, and the courts repeatedly extended their detention. "There is a mass arrest campaign being launched here, just like after the events in May [2021], in order to scare people from protesting,” he emphasized. The police have arrested around 150 protesters, 40 percent of whom are minors; 38 protestors remain in detention.

Adalah also submitted urgent legal interventions to restore vital services to the Bedouin community during and after the protests. Adalah demanded that the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) restore power following prolonged blackouts in Bedouin towns, after the IEC claimed that it lacked permission from the police to enter the towns. Following Adalah’s intervention, bus services to Bedouin villages were resumed after being cut under the pretext of the demonstrations.

Read media coverage of the Naqab events and Adalah's work:



On 25 and 29 January 2022, Adalah, the Negev Coexistence Forum and the Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab held tours for members of Amnesty International (AI) and Amnesty-USA to Bedouin communities in the Naqab at risk of displacement.

Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of AI, and her colleagues visited Sa'wa and surrounding villages and met activists and protestors. They also toured Ras Jaraba, which is threatened with evacuation. Paul O’Brien, Director of Amnesty USA, and his colleagues visited Al-Araqeeb, which has been destroyed 197 times. Both delegations met with community leaders in the unrecognized village of A-Zarnuq. 

Click here to see Adalah's News, 31 January 2022: Afforestation work in the Naqab by ILA and JNF threatens to displace Bedouin residents

JNF bulldozer in Sa'wa. Photo: Marwan Abu Frieh
JNF bulldozer in Sa'wa. Photo: Marwan Abu Frieh
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Project Leader:
Ranna Khalil
Haifa , Haifa Israel
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