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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
Adalah webinar- right to protest in Corona times
Adalah webinar- right to protest in Corona times

Dear Friends,

We hope you are well and staying safe

The Israeli government introduced emergency regulations in March 2020 at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, which severely restricted the freedom of movement, however, it still allowed the right to protest, although limited in scope. The new regulations stipulated that protesting in public places will be permitted, with conditions on the number of participants and the distance between them. As the crisis evolved, regulations changed, and along with it the restrictions on gatherings in public places.

Despite the coronavirus and the strict restrictions, there still seemed to be a sense of urgency among many members of the public to express their discontent, and a high number of outdoor protests demanding change took place during the past two months. Examples include the "Black Flag" demonstrations to protest the continuing rule of Israeli PM and the government’s anti-democratic, invasive measures to combat the virus, including approval of Shin Bet phone tracking of citizens; protests against the economic crisis and the lack of sufficient state assistance to small businesses and self-employed people; a strike and protests by Arab local councils against the government's failure to allocate enough and equitable funds to compensate for their losses due to the coronavirus crisis, among others.

Adalah issued material in Arabic explaining the right and rules of protest in light of the new regulations, including a poster published on social media to raise awareness among Palestinian citizens of Israel. There has been a certain degree of confusion among citizens and residents in fully understanding and implementing the new government directives, as many regulations often banned travel more than 100 meters from home other than for essential employment or to buy groceries or medicines, but continued to permit protest, to some degree.

Adalah staff received direct queries from Palestinian citizens wishing to participate in protests under the emergency situation. As protest was never completely banned by authorities, Adalah sought to inform them that they could legally practice this basic right, explaining the new directives, as well as suggesting virtual alternatives.

While demonstrations continued to be held in public places, many protests moved online, with activists at times  garnering even greater support than what they had during their street protests. People confined to their homes and eager for a change allowed for vast ‘attendance’ at online protests that in usual times would not have been possible. This year also Palestinians in Israel commemorated Land Day (30 March) and the March of Return (29 April), two major annual protests, online.

In addition to issuing materials in Arabic and providing legal advice to protest organizers, Adalah hosted a webinar in Arabic on the right to protest, which was broadcast live via Adalah’s Facebook page, in cooperation with partner NGOs. The webinar included information on human rights violations in light of the emergency regulations, focusing on online protest during the coronavirus emergency, and how users can utilize the internet as a tool for legitimate protest to express their opinion while protecting their privacy and online safety.

The history of Palestinian protest in Israel has been marred by violence, as well as mistrust and fear towards law enforcement authorities. Israeli police forces were always viewed as oppressors and in this period, things were not that different. The Israeli authorities have consistently censored Palestinian cyber activism, using social media providers to remove content and block Palestinian sites.

The freedom to dissent is fundamental, even during a public health emergency, and citizens have the right to hold protests if they adhere to social distancing rules in place to protect public health. During this pandemic, crowds went to the streets and held online protests demanding political reforms or to demand that the government improve their social and economic conditions, which had deteriorated due to the coronavirus situation.

Adalah’s work on the right to protest during this crisis has built on years of experience during which we gained trust of Palestinian activists and Adalah became the place they turned to for answers on rights violations.

We continue to be committed to protecting civil liberties, even during these most trying times.

Please support Adalah in continuing to “protect the protest”.

Thank you.

Poster for Adalah's webinar on right to protest
Poster for Adalah's webinar on right to protest
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Photo: powtac/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: powtac/Flickr Creative Commons

Dear Friends,

Happy new year 2020 from Adalah!  

2019 will be remembered as a year of popular global protest – from Hong Kong, to India, to France, to Iran, to Lebanon and more. Social media is a key organizing tool for protesters, and governments seeking to prevent protests and to quell dissent use a range of tactics, including censoring users’ social media content.

Over the past two years, Adalah filed a series of legal complaints to the Israeli authorities charging that the Cyber Unit, operating in the State Attorney's Office since 2015, is unlawfully asking social media platforms to censor user content. Israel’s state attorney finally responded this past November 2019, claiming that these requests "do not constitute an exercise of governmental authority.” In other words, they claim, the Cyber Unit only issues “voluntary” requests, while the decisions and actual removal of content are ultimately made by the social media providers themselves.

Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court in late November 2019 seeking an order that the Cyber Unit halt its practices. Adalah Attorneys Fady Khoury and Rabea Eghbariah argued that the unit is violating the constitutional rights to freedom of expression and due process, and that it lacks legal authority. Further, there is reason to suspect that the victims of these violations are, first and foremost, Palestinians. 

According to a 2018 report by Israel’s state attorney, the number of Cyber Unit requests to censor content leaped from 2,241 in 2016, to 12,351 in 2017, to 14,283 in 2018 – an increase of over 600%. Further, social media providers accepted the overwhelming majority of requests to remove user content: about 90% of the targeted content was completely or partially removed.

There are legal procedures or no transparency in the process, and no framework for users to defend themselves against allegations that their posts warranted removal.

Our case in the Israeli Supreme Court remains pending.  

We need your continued support for our work protecting protest and defending dissent – on the street and on the web. You are key to this struggle.

“While 2019 already qualifies for a place in the annals of street protest,” Gideon Rachman, the Financial Times’s chief foreign affairs columnist wrote as 2019 drew to a close, “it is possible that the really world-shaking year may turn out to be 2020.”

Make a contribution to Adalah today!

Thank you!

Photo: Michael Schreifels/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: Michael Schreifels/Flickr Creative Commons
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Adalah's meme linking October 2000 to October 2019
Adalah's meme linking October 2000 to October 2019

Dear friends,

Nineteen years ago, in October 2000, Israeli police shot dead 13 Palestinians in Israel during mass protests against Israel's repressive policies in the Occupied Territories at the start of the Second Intifada. The police, who used live-fire and rubber bullets, also wounded 1,000 protestors and arrested 660 in Israel.

For years Adalah represented the families of the 13 killed Palestinian protestors, demanding that those responsible be investigated and prosecuted.

In a 2003 report, a commission of inquiry confirmed that there was no justification for the police's use of lethal force against the protestors. It also called on the police to "root out the existence of negative prejudices against the Arab sector" across its ranks, adding that the police should no longer see the Palestinian citizens as an "enemy".

Despite these strong words, the Attorney General in 2008 closed all of the files against police officers, commanders, and political leaders. To this day, not a single Israeli officer or other official has been indicted for the killings. And years later, it is clear that the Israeli authorities have refused to heed Palestinian demands for fair, humane, and accountable law enforcement.

This month, thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel have taken to the streets to protest the police's systemic negligence in tackling the rise of deadly violent crime in Arab communities.

On 3 October, Adalah participated in a general strike by the Palestinian community to protest the police's inactivity. Adalah staff also attended a mass demonstration in the northern town of Majd Al-Krum, where we legally observed the protests and stood ready for any legal representations of protestorsthat may have been necessary.

To commemorate October 2000, Adalah issued a meme on its social media pages connecting the protests in 2000 with the current protests of October 2019 (see above), and reiterating our demand for justice and accountability for the killings and injuries of Palestinians past and present, whether by the police themselves or by their grave inaction.

Our persistent efforts over all these years to protect Palestinian citizens’ right to protest, and to hold the Israeli police accountable to the people they are meant to serve, can only be possible by your ongoing, generous support for our work.

A monthly, recurring donation will help to ensure our continued ability to “Protect the Protest”.

Will you make a new contribution to Adalah today?

Thank you in advance for all of your support to our crucial work.

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Protestors at Gaza's Great March of Return
Protestors at Gaza's Great March of Return

Dear friends,

For over a year, Israel's military forces have used lethal sniper fire to intentionally kill or maim Palestinians participating in Gaza's Great March of Return, a mass weekly protest demanding Palestinians' right to return to their homeland and the end of Israel's blockade of the Strip.

Adalah challenged this brutal sniper policy – which has killed 207 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded 8,490 since the protests began on Land Day, 30 March 2018 – before the Israeli Supreme Court last year. But the court rejected Adalah's arguments and fully adopted the military's position, giving a green light to the continued use of live fire against protestors.

Our legal battle to end this outrageous and deadly policy, however, is not done yet.

A military document officially released in February 2019, eight months after the court delivered its ruling, reveals that Israeli snipers are permitted to open fire on protestors defined as "key instigators" or "key rioters" – even when they move away from the crowd or are resting.

The alarming details in this document were never presented by the state or the military when Adalah, Al Mezan, and other human rights organizations challenged Israel's sniper policy before the Supreme Court. And even if they were, the military's broad categorizations, and its approval of deadly methods to suppress the protests, still grossly violate international law.

The UN Commission of Inquiry, an independent body that investigated the protests, found Israel's sniper policy illegal. Its report, released in March 2019, emphasized that the use of live ammunition against protestors was "unlawful", as they did not pose any threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers or civilians or participate directly in hostilities.

After carefully reviewing the document, Adalah sent a letter to Israeli authorities last month, in June 2019, calling on them to immediately order a ban on the use of live ammunition and sniper fire as a means of dispersing protests in Gaza.

Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara, who wrote the letter, stated the following:

"The Israeli military – which has up until now kept secret its vague definition of the invented category of 'key instigator' – now openly reveals that this category was created retroactively in order to justify the shootings of people who posed no real and immediate danger to Israeli soldiers or civilians."

"The military's document," Bishara added, "attempts to explain away the indiscriminate shooting of unarmed demonstrators which results from a total disregard for human life."

Adalah is ready to launch further legal actions if its calls on the Israeli authorities are ignored.

Your support helps us to defend the right to protest for thousands of Palestinians, as well as the right to life, as dissent becomes increasingly dangerous.

Please donate generously to Adalah's work today.

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Dear Friends,

Many greetings from Adalah. 

One year has passed since Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip launched the Great March of Return protests, which continue to be held every Friday along the fence with Israel.

As you well know, most discussions around the protests focus on the Israeli military’s brutal response to the demonstrations, and the impunity with which Israeli snipers use live fire to intentionally kill or wound Palestinian protestors, without fear of consequences.

As Adalah and our partners have found – and as the UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Protests has confirmed – these actions violate international law, and yet Israeli authorities have proven to be unwilling to properly investigate or punish the perpetrators for their crimes.

However, it is also crucial to remember why Palestinians in Gaza launched the march in the first place: to end the siege on Gaza and to reclaim their right to return to their homeland.

This is why the demonstrations began on 30 March – Land Day – which marks Palestinians' resistance to the state’s expropriation of mass tracts of their land in the Galilee in 1976. In these Land Day protests decades earlier, six unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel, engaged in a struggle for their land rights, were killed by police.

The Palestinian struggle to defend their land and homes remains as vital today as it was 43 years ago.

Just this year, for example, Israeli authorities announced plans to forcibly transfer 36,000 Bedouin citizens from their homes in the Naqab, in order to make way for a military industrial zone, a phosphate mine, expanded highways, and new towns for Jewish citizens - plans that Adalah is challenging before Israeli courts and planning committees.

These plans are being given legal backing by discriminatory legislation such as the Jewish Nation-State Law (JNSL), which enshrines Jewish supremacy as a constitutional rule and bears the distinct characteristics of apartheid.

Article 7 of this law, which calls on the state to promote Jewish settlement as a “national value”, will intensify Israel’s racist land policy on both sides of the Green Line and put thousands more Palestinians at risk of displacement and dispossession.

The Israeli elections next month foreshadow a continuation of these policies in Israel and in the 1967 Occupied Territories. As a result, Palestinians’ rights to their lands, their livelihoods and their lives are under greater threat than ever. 

Please donate to Adalah’s work to protect the protest in commemoration of this 43rd Land Day, 2019. 

In solidarity,

Suhad Bishara, Director of Adalah’s Land and Planning Unit

Mysanna Moranny, Coordinator of Adalah’s Land and Planning Unit


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Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Location: Haifa - Israel
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AdalahEnglish
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