Netanyahu’s party placed 1,200 cameras in polling stations in Arab communities


JERUSALEM (JTA) — As Israelis headed to the polls Tuesday, news emerged that the Likud party had placed some 1,200 cameras in polling stations in Arab communities.

Some of the cameras were body cameras hidden on observers and party activists, the others were installed in the polling stations by right-wing activists, according to reports. Police confiscated dozens of cameras during the morning and afternoon.

Likud officials said the cameras were aimed at preventing voter fraud. The head of the Arab party Balad, Jamal Zahalka, in a complaint filed with the Elections Committee, called the cameras “an illegal measure meant to scare away voters.”

The Central Elections Committee chairman, Hanan Melcer, a Supreme Court justice, issued an order prohibiting filming voters inside polling stations unless there is a specific concern about real voter fraud. Voters cannot be filmed arriving at the polling station or during voting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that cameras are necessary to “ensure a fair vote.”

“There should be cameras everywhere, not hidden ones,” he said.

Political parties can hire their own polling-station observers. Likud confirmed to Israeli media outlets that it hired 1,200 poll workers and gave them the cameras.

Cameras are permitted after the polls close while the ballots are being counted. But everyone involved must be informed of the filming, which is then noted in the polling station’s minutes.

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