ACRI Demands That Municipal Authorities Refrain from Harassing Protest Encampments

Photo CC-by-SA Yaffa Phillips

Following recent threats published in the media regarding intentions to evict protest encampments, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) strongly condemns attempts by heads of municipal authorities to silence tent protesters.
According to Attorney Avner Pinchuk, Head of Freedom of Expression Issues at ACRI, “the role of the police is to protect freedom of expression, not to pander to mayors and municipal authorities, who have their own agendas, while using unreasonable excuses for eviction such as the expected Palestinian declaration of statehood in September.”
In the past few weeks, ACRI has successfully fought several attempts to restrict various protest encampments across Israel, and is preparing to continue providing legal aid should these silencing attempts – on behalf of municipal authorities or the police – become escalated.
On Tuesday August 9, Tel Aviv municipal inspectors tore down tents on Chen Blvd. and Nordau Blvd. in the city, claiming they were unpopulated. In a letter to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Attorney Pinchuk stated: “We are aware of the efforts made by the Tel Aviv municipality to balance the need to maintain the city’s appearance and protect the welfare of its residents with the need to respect freedom of expression and protest. But it is precisely due to these considerations that we expect the municipality to refrain from implementing these small and capricious operations.”
In Ramat Gan, protestors have repeatedly been confronted by municipal officers who torn down their signs and confiscated their equipment. ACRI sent a letter to Ramat Gan Mayor Zvi Bar, demanding that the Ramat Gan municipality cease from harassing the local protest encampment. Among other things, ACRI demanded that the municipality cancel a fine given to Amnon Bigelman, one of the residents of the encampment, who received a NIS 470 fine for hanging a “political protest sign” after he placed a cardboard sign stating “fighting for our home” on a fence next to the encampment.
Attorney Tal Hassin, Director of ACRI’s Public Hotline: “Fining a person under such circumstances is a severe violation of freedom of expression, while deviating from the intent of the law and abusing the authorities of municipal inspectors – while harassing Ramat Gan residents who are seeking to realize their right to freedom of expression and protest. It seems that the municipal inspectors are driven by foreign interests – particularly at a time when protest encampments have been set up across Israel and the majority of mayors and municipal authorities are responding in a restrained and understanding manner.”
ACRI has also been distributing rights-pamphlets to protesters throughout the country. To view the pamphlet, click here.

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Housing Rights, Social and Economic Rights, Tent Protest

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