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Israel's Likud Government is trying to ban public protests against its ongoing assault in Gaza, citing the danger of rocket attacks as a pretext prohibit protests against its punitive military campaign. No rockets from Gaza reached Tel Aviv, but concerts are being cancelled as well, (including ironically an Aug. 6th concert by Megadeath). However the IDF's order only applies to gatherings of over 1,000 people and these Anti-War demonstrations had perhaps half that number attend so it shouldn't even been applied legally.

Tel Aviv anti-war rally held despite police order

By LAHAV HARKOV

Citing the resumption of hostilities on the Gaza front, police officials informed organizers of an anti-war demonstration in Tel Aviv scheduled for Saturday evening that the event cannot be held due to the public safety risk.

Police officials said that they are legally bound to adhere to the directives handed down by the IDF Home Front Command, which does not permit large gatherings in public during times of conflict.

So once hostilities are under way the IDF itself can shut down anti-war protests of over 1,000 people. What a great Catch 22!
The left-wing demonstration, which was expected to draw at least 1,000 people to Rabin Square, was organized by a number of political movements and parties, including Meretz, Hadash, Peace Now, and the Palestinian Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace.

“Due to the threat of rockets and in accordance with the instructions of the Home Front Command, the authorities have resolved to not permit any events which involve the participation of large crowds in open areas,” the police said. “As such, it will not be possible to permit the protest that was planned for this evening in Rabin Square in deference to the safety and security of the greater public.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) called the cancellation unacceptable.

“This means we cannot protest the war during the war. This is exactly the time when the police and security forces should defend our freedom of expression and demonstration and not rush to block it,” Zandberg said.

Protest organizers released a statement saying that the event would be rescheduled.

On Saturday several hundred anti-war protesters ignored police instructions and gathered in in Rabin Square in defiance of of the government's ban.
There was a large police presence at the rally, including mounted police, who were separating the two sides. Border Police units deployed to the area kept the right wing protestors behind barricades to prevent confrontation.
One week ago Israeli police tried to use the same pretext of the IDF's order to forcibly brake up a similar sized anti-war protest.
e Break Up Peaceful Anti-War Protest In Tel Aviv, Arrest 14

By Shmarya Rosenberg

A few hundred anti-war protesters in Habima Square in Tel Aviv refused to leave after the police declared the protest an illegal gathering.

And even though the protesters were peaceful, and even though almost no right-wing protesters and street thugs showed up to attack them, police arrested 14 anti-war protesters, causing the protest to scatter to several other nearby locations, Ha’aretz reported. Police claimed they broke up the rally because it lacked a permit and out of “concern” for the safety of the protesters.

The anti-war protesters protested both continued Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip and the resulting civilian casualties that ensues, as well as Hamas attacks against Israel.

Protesters were pushed backward by rows of police until they were forced back to a nearby street.

The protesters refused to move further.

Police warned them several times that the gathering was illegal.

And when protesters refused to leave, police started making arrests.

Israeli Police aren't the only ones who want to shut public protests, gangs of Israel ultra-nationalist thugs have repeatedly attacked anti-war protests over the last month making public dissent against the government dangerous for Israelis to express beliefs that are contrary to Israel's pro-war majority.
Israeli Peace Demo Violently Disrupted, Dozens Injured as Counter-Protesters Yell "Death to Arabs

AMY GOODMAN: We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let’s start in Haifa. I want to start by asking you, Rann Bar-On, what happened in this peace demonstration?

RANN BAR-ON: Hi, Amy. We were about three or four hundred left-wing activists demonstrating against the war, for peace between Arabs and Jews, refusing to be enemies. As we arrived, my partner and I saw well over a thousand activists from—militant activists from the right, surrounded by police and others, screaming, "Death to Arabs! Death to leftists!" As we were protesting, they moved towards us. The police allowed them to move towards us. The police allowed them to attack us, to throw stones at us. Later on, as we were trying to leave, the police took—the police did not attempt to allow us to leave. They took over an hour to evacuate us while we were under heavy attack by stones and other missiles. Many were injured. We’ve had over 30 injured. Two women are still in hospital. There were gangs roaming the streets, beating up anyone they thought was an Arab or member of our demonstration.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: The right wing, the current inception of the street-level right wing, which kind of acts as the street muscle for Netanyahu’s governing coalition, particularly the right-wing elements represented by Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party, they are not just settlers or religious nationalists. Many of them were army reservists, who came together as part of the orange cells that protested the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2006. They formed a group called Im Tirtzu, which intimidates leftists and Palestinians on college campuses across Israel. And they are still a major part of the army, including the army officer corps. So the violence that we’re seeing in Gaza is not just related to a particular military strategy; it’s also influenced by the ideology that has captured the hearts and minds of these young men who have learned to demonize the other and see Palestinians and antiwar and human rights elements as absolutely subhuman.

Palestinians face far worse repression from the military occupation regime in the West Bank for taking part in anti-war protests, with a number of Palestinians having been shot and killed.

Israel cracks down on anti-war protesters

More than 1,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel have been arrested since Israel's Gaza offensive began in early July.

Mya Guarnieri

While some have been arrested for protesting the Israeli incursion into Gaza, dozens are currently being held without charge. Many say they have been detained based on policemen's "lies", while some have been beaten to the point of needing medical care.

Maisa Arshid, an attorney for dozens of the detainees, said that the crackdown on Palestinian citizens is only getting worse, with 20 to 30 Palestinians getting picked up every week in the Nazareth area alone.

"All of them are accused of participating in illegal demonstrations," Arshid told Al Jazeera, adding that "part of these demos were permitted by the police themselves".

Palestinian citizens who attend Israeli universities have already been subject to disciplinary hearings and expulsion due to remarks made on Facebook against Israeli soldiers. In a letter to the Council of Higher Education in Israel, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) likened the universities' monitoring of Palestinian students' social media accounts to a "witch hunt".
Also see: Israel's Knesset silences Palestinian MK who spoke out on murdered teens & against Gaza Assault

These are disturbing developments. Is Israel moving toward becoming a less open society where dissenters get pounded down like a protruding nail?

For this discussion I'd like to leave the merits of the Israeli government and Palestinian positions on the conflict for other diaries, and try to keep the focus Israel's tolerance of divergent views, how that may be affecting Israel's democratic institutions and the character of Israeli society in general.

I realize emotions are running high on both sides of the issue so please let try and treat each other with respect even if we hold profoundly different views.  

Originally posted to Lefty Coaster on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 03:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Adalah — A Just Middle East.

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