Adalah, Hadash, and Maki Petition the Supreme Court Against Police Ban on Palestinian Political Protests During the War

The petitioners argued that the police are seeking to pre-emptively censor legitimate political expression, solely because they disapprove of the protesters’ cause. Such censorship is evidently motivated by ideological or political considerations.

Today, 6 November 2023, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of the Palestinian political party Hadash (Jabha - “The Front”) and the secretaries of Maki’s (The Israeli Communist Party) branches in the Palestinian town of Umm al-Fahem and the area of Al-Batuf. The petition demands the cancellation of the police’s decision not to grant permits for protests scheduled to be held this week in the Palestinian towns of Umm Al-Fahm and Sakhnin, located in Israel, as well as the cancellation of a sweeping directive issued by the Police Commissioner prohibiting demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and in protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza.


    CLICK HERE to read the petition (Hebrew)


HCJ 8007/23 Hadash – Democratic Front for Peace and Equality et al. v. Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai et al. 


The petition was submitted by Adalah’s General Director, Attorney Dr. Hassan Jabareen, and Adalah’s Legal Director, Dr. Suhad Bishara.


The police refused to authorize a planned protest organized by the Hadash political party and Maki, under the title of “Protest Against the War and for a Just Peace”, in Umm Al-Fahem, stating that “the protest would almost certainly lead to a significant and serious disruption of public order.” The police also rejected a request to hold a march in the Palestinian city Sakhnin in the north of Israel, under the title of “Stop the War” planned for 4 November, without providing any reasons for the rejection. The Umm Al-Fahem protest is scheduled to take place tomorrow, on 7 November. Therefore, in light of the urgency, the petition also seeks an interim order.


This follows a directive issued by the Israeli Police Commissioner to reject all permits for demonstrations in support of the Palestinian people in Gaza. This policy was detailed in a statement made by the Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai on 17 October 2023, during a briefing in the Northern District of the Police. He also stated, “Anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome; I will put them on buses now that are headed there and I will help them get to Gaza.” The effect of the Commissioner's directive became evident in the days that followed during the demonstrations in Haifa and Umm al-Fahem against Israel's offensive in Gaza, which were forcefully dispersed by the police.


CLICK HERE to read more about the ban  


In the petition, Adalah argued that the decision to prohibit protests, along with the sweeping ban imposed by the Police Commissioner, infringes the fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and protest, political freedom of expression, and the right to equality. Adalah further argued that the police is seeking to pre-emptively censor legitimate political expression, solely based on the police’s disapproval of the protesters’ cause. Such censorship is evidently motivated by ideological or political considerations.


Adalah further added: 


“It is even more crucial to uphold the fundamental freedoms of protest and political expression during times of war. However, it is becoming alarmingly evident that the current restrictions, which target Palestinian citizens of Israel, and all those who oppose Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, not only serve to quash dissent but also to label any form of Palestinian protest as illegitimate”