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.
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