Crackdown on Israeli dissent: Police summon prominent protest leaders

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 18 Comments

“We want to know what you’ll do this summer.”
And police form’s addressee line  reads: “Everyone”
Graphic: Ido Kenan

A possible crackdown on Israeli dissent? Several prominent Israeli activists were summoned by the police over the weekend. The police showed up at their doors with an invitation to “step over to the police” who want to know “what are you planning in terms of the protest for the coming summer, in order to prepare.”

No details regarding the nature of the investigation were provided on the summons. Haaretz links the threat to the J14 tent protests of last summer and says the police are trying to suppress dissent:

As the activists questioned tell it, the police warned them a month ago against “stretching the boundaries” and made it clear that at whichever events might be planned, they would be the first to be arrested. It looks as if the police had hoped that “marking” the protest leaders and scaring them would put a damper on efforts to renew the protests.

This information broke over Facebook, and was compiled at Room 404, Ido Kenan’s blog. It was subsequently reported by Haaretz (Hebrew). Translation:

Police refused to comment on each individual one of the activists who were summoned and those that will be invited, but said that the move is designed to prepare the Israeli police for the summer months. “All we want to get active in scheduling of them is to prepare ourselves and them in a better way to Summer, if it intended to demonstrate”, Israeli police said.

The intimidation campaign means Israel’s police have “other”-ed Jewish Israeli activists. It is a significant change, in that traditional progression of “first they came for the Palestinians” – the people who are targeted for thought crimes were, until very recently, outside the core of the society. By summoning them for interrogation, the state apparatus (police, in this case) signals that they are suspected, even if they do nothing. They are no longer the lords of the land. The police are giving a clear signal which translates into: “you guyz? watch out, we’re looking to stop you. Even if you do something legal, like staging a protest.”

Below I have accumulated evidence of the intimidation, most of it posted on Facebook.

Facebook post from Tamir Hajaj:

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[Facebook post from Tamir Hajaj]

Hello friends and fellow activists. I have just received a telephone call from my daughter, who says there are three policemen outside the house, looking for me. I asked her to give them my phone number, and so she did, and a few minutes later a nice policeman called, who asked me to come to the Kfar Saba police station. I asked him why and his answer was, in order to know what you’re planning, in terms of the protests for the coming summer. I told him, why should that interest you? If I do something I’ll contact you. And he responded, Mr. Hajaj, it is important to us to know what your plans are for the summer in order to get prepared, we notice that you are very active and there are quite a few activities where you are the event. I told him, what, really, am I so important that the police should follow my activity? And his answer was, let’s meet, it doesn’t have to be at the station, we can sit down for a coffee and chat a little. I told him that I don’t have time right now, that I’m preparing a large event and that I’d be in touch with him. We said our farewells nicely, only after he gave me his phone number. We should all have a good week, full of good news.

Facebook post from Moshe Menkin:   2
Facebook post from Moshe Menkin

The Police are on my doorstep again.
 Why don’t they call first? 
Why do they come, in person, to bring me a summons?
 Interesting, not that it’s scary or that I have anything to hide or anything like that, but what’s up with sending two detectives, taking them out of their regular work in order to bring Moshe Menkin a paper, at home…
I was summoned for an interrogation on Thursday at 15:00, in “in the matter of” it says “investigation”, the policeman didn’t specify what the matter was. Something about the public order, he said..
The lines about “if this date is not convenient for you, please be so kind as to call by telephone” doesn’t indicate a phone number. So what do I do If it’s not convenient? 
According to the paper I’m supposed to contact a policeman named Dror, no family name, just go look for Dror… Yiftach Percinct, 3rd floor…
Maybe the police are just curious and want to see where I live… ummm… interesting. I keep being sorry I haven’t finished painting the front of my house after the renovations I made. Maybe their presence will inspire me.


Photo of Haggai Matar’s summons to a Jaffa police station

Haggai Matar’s summons to a Jaffa police station is shown above. It reads, “Show up for interrogation @ 10:00 on June 13th 2012 and bring your ID card. Look for Shabi, 3rd Floor. Signed by: Shabi, 978726”

Facebook post from Haggai Matar:

  TXT
Facebook post from Haggai Matar

For years I’ve been telling everyone “no, I have no problem with the fact that Shabak haven’t summoned me for a conversation yet. It’s not that my activity isn’t threatening, it’s that after two years in prison, it’s clear that there is no point whatsever to try and recruit me – or silence me” – but in my heart of hearts I don’t understand what’s taking them so long. Could it be that the day has finally come?

Facebook post from Ward Yasin:

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  Facebook post from Ward Yasin includes Surhir Camal Abd Al Latif Khial’s summons to a Jaffa police station

Surhir Camal Abd Al Latif Khial’s summons to a Jaffa police station:
Show up for interrogation @ 09:00 on June 10th 2012 and bring your ID card. Look for Yardena,  Please wait in the lobby
Signed by: Yardena Rachamim, 583252

Facebook post from Shir Alony:

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Facebook post from Shir Alony

so, other then me they also summoned three other social struggle activists for interrogation. About what? God knows.

Facebook post from Shlomit Carmeli:

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Facebook post from Shlomit Carmeli

“What do they want? Shadi also wants to interrogate me on the 3rd floor in the matter of interrogation. And if the date of the interrogation is not convenient I should call number _______”

Ido Kenan posted a message to the police on his Facebook: “maybe you’ll tell us what *you* are planning for the coming summer?”  The police, playing innocent, responded, on their facebook page. Full translation of the superscription on Ido Kenan’s summons: Hi Ido, I see here an invitation to come to the police station, I don’t exactly see what you mean.

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‘Hi Ido, I see here an invitation to come to the police station, I don’t exactly see what you mean’

Ido Kenan responded, “It’s really complicated.” Ido Kenan continued:

Tamir Hajaj is the only one who was told explicitly what they want to investigate him about. According to his post on facebook yesterday, “a nice policeman called, who asked me to come to the Kfar Saba police station. I asked him why and his answer was, in order to know what you’re planning, in terms of the protests for the coming summer. I told him, why should that interest you? If I do something I’ll contact you. And he responded, Mr. Hajaj, it is important to us to know what your plans are for the summer in order to get prepared, we notice that you are very active and there are quite a few activities where you are the event.”
Hajaj was interviewed for Channel B radio, where the police response was read out: “we do not customarily give details about people who are invited to the police station. This is the message by Eran Yehuda, spokesman for HaSharon Region.”

How did the police choose the interrogation subjects? Nili Maman wrote: “in practice they sent an invitation to everyone, or to most of the people, who were arrested at any of the demonstrations.”

Maman continues: The police want to know what we’re going to do this summer. Let’s tell it:

We want to do what you’ll be doing this summer [summons, with invitation addressed to: evvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvrybody]
The police, so we have learned this week, has been inviting protest activists for interrogation, to find out what they plan to do this summer. Police resources are limited, and to make sure she doesn’t waste them by summoning all of us for interrogation, let’s volunteer our information without coercion.
Write what you intend to do next summer here in the comments, or in your blog/facebook/twitter, with a link to this post. If it’s on facebook, don’t forget to tag the official Israel Police page  so they can red these things, as well as room 404  or me , so I can publish select confessions here.

In an about-face on Wednesday, the Israel Police started canceling summons it had initially delivered. Haaretz speculates that this was done following a direct order from Public Security Minister, Ahranovich, who is in charge of Israel’s national police.

Several activists were questioned despite this, including Haggai Matar. Haaretz reports that one public housing activist, Vicky Vanunu, was subjected to a search. The police claimed they were looking for torches, expecting a torchlight procession. Jerusalem activists denied having any such plans, and the Israel Police stressed that a torchlight procession could endanger lives.

The upshot of all this is that Israel’s police believes demonstrations (which are legal and do not require permits in Israel) are a threat that needs to be confronted in the Only Democracy™.

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