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Haaretz - Protesters in Israel and West Bank face increasing restrictions, report finds

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    Haaretz - Sun, December 04, 2011 Published 01:11 04.12.11 Latest update 01:11 04.12.11 Protesters in Israel and West Bank face increasing restrictions,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2011
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      Haaretz - Sun, December 04, 2011

      Published 01:11 04.12.11
      Latest update 01:11 04.12.11

      Protesters in Israel and West Bank face increasing restrictions, report
      finds

      Freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are under attack,
      according to Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
      By Gili Cohen

      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/protesters-in-israel-and-west-bank-face-increasing-restrictions-report-finds-1.399374


      In its annual assessment of human rights in Israel and the territories,
      scheduled for release today, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel
      points to increasing efforts to restrict freedom of expression and
      freedom of assembly.

      Among other issues, the State of Human Rights Report 2011 cites various
      means employed to silence participants in the social protest movement
      that began in the summer and claims that democratic debate in the
      country has been increasingly restricted in the face of the protest.

      According to the report, some protesters were arrested and released only
      after promising "not to attend demonstrations in the near future," while
      others were summoned to conversations with police officers or Shin Bet
      security service agents, who warned them about the possible consequences
      of their behavior. The report's authors noted that despite regulations
      requiring police officers to wear a uniform with an identification badge
      at all times, increasingly officers confronted protesters without
      wearing badges and sometimes even with their faces concealed (for
      example, while dispersing a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, during the
      demolition of homes in al-Araqib and also in Lod, while serving eviction
      notices in Silwan and while evacuating Havat Gilad ). The authors point
      out that part of the reason for the obligation of police officers to
      identify themselves is to deter the abuse of authority.

      According to ACRI, the Israeli authorities deprive Palestinians living
      in the territories of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly by
      declaring all demonstrations, even nonviolent ones, as illegal
      gatherings. As such they are dispersed by security forces using means
      such as tear gas, water jets, a sonic device known as "the scream" that
      emits an intolerably loud, high-pitched sound and "the skunk," with its
      payload of foul-smelling liquid, in addition to the use of force.

      The report documents several instances of political activists in Israel
      and the West Bank being summoned by security officials to "warning
      talks." They include an Israeli Arab who is active in Tarabut-Hithabrut,
      An Arab-Jewish Movement for Social & Political Change. He was called in
      for a police interview but was instead questioned by a Shin Bet agent
      about his political views and in connection to a demonstration he
      attended. In another case, an Israeli Arab university student was
      questioned about his political activities after taking part in a protest
      against Operation Cast Lead. A third example involved two activists from
      Anarchists Against the Wall who after their arrest were visited by a
      female Shin Bet agent who told them the agency was aware of their
      activities and would step in if they broke the law.

      The report was critical of recent bills that have been submitted to the
      Knesset that the authors characterized as jeopardizing the basic
      freedoms that are the core of democracy, including the freedom of
      expression, assembly, thought and opinion. These draft laws include the
      "boycott law," which permits sanctions against supporters of an
      anti-Israel boycott and "discriminates against people holding certain
      political views and greatly hurts a legal, legitimate and nonviolent
      means of protest"; the Naqba Law, which makes it possible to deprive
      organizations that oppose the core principles of the State of Israel of
      funding and "does great damage to the freedom of political expression,
      to artistic freedom and to the right to demonstrate," according to the
      report.

      The report also addresses issues including human rights violations
      against minors and foreign nationals being held in detention facilities
      in Israel and the territories, and the silencing of social rights in Israel.
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