Israeli Police seek stricter regulations on public protests


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Interim regulations drawn up by the Israel Police will add new restrictions on civil protests, Haaretz reported.

Under the regulations, any gathering of more than 50 people will require a permit, as will marches. The regulations were updated in June, and their specifics were disclosed to the Association for Civil Rights following a freedom of information request.

The regulations were created after Israel’s Supreme Court two years ago ruled that demonstrations of any size that did not deal with “political issues” did not need a police permit. This included demonstrations against police brutality or government corruption, for example.

The new regulations expose a loophole by creating a new term, “protest event,” defined as  any demonstration of more than 50 people “aimed at expressing an idea, protest or message.”

Police would under the regulations be able to set conditions for such protest events in conjunction with the organizers, or to unilaterally impose the conditions if there are no specific organizers. Violating such conditions would be considered a criminal offense.

The police are writing legislation to be passed by the Knesset, which would regulate demonstrations according to the interim regulations, according to the report.

Docorights, a coalition of human rights groups in Israel, filed a complaint against the new regulations, saying they were formulated without public input and gave the police overly broad powers to regulate protests.

The police responded that the regulations do not limit freedom of expression and protest, but set a consistent policy for handling security at protests across police districts.

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