Palestinian Political Leadership in Israel Detained for Anti-War Protest

Adalah: The illegal detentions are aimed at silencing all forms of criticism and suppressing freedom of expression and assembly of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Today, Thursday, 9 November 2023, Israeli police detained former Member of Knesset (MK) Mohammad Barakeh, the chairperson of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, along with four other prominent Palestinian political leaders in Israel, and an activist. Mr. Barakeh was arrested while he was en route to a protest in Nazareth by police using an unmarked vehicle. The four notable members of the Balad (Tajammu) party who were detained are the party leader, former MK Dr. Sami Abu Shehadeh, former party leader Dr. Mtanes Shehadeh, former MK Haneen Zoabi, and the deputy secretary-general of the party Yousef Tatour. Furthermore, Mahmoud Mawasi, a journalist and member of the High Follow-up Committee, was detained as well.


The police transferred Mr. Barakeh to the Beit She'an Police Station, while the other leaders were taken to the Migdal Haemek Police Station. Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel provided legal counsel to all detainees and filed an appeal on their behalf, demanding their immediate release. After the arrests, the police issued a press release stating that the individuals were detained for defying police instructions and attempting to organize an unlawful protest that had the potential to incite public disorder and disrupt the peace. In the appeal, Adalah’s General Director, Dr. Hassan Jabareen argued that the planned demonstration is legal under Israeli law as it does not require police approval. Despite not needing police approval, Mr. Barakeh had informed the Nazareth Police Commander yesterday about the High Follow-Up Committee's plan to organize a protest in al-Ein Square in Nazareth, with an expected participation of no more than 50 individuals.


The arrests follow a Supreme Court ruling from the day before, 8 November 2023, whereby the court held that the Police Commissioner lacks the authority to ban all political protests by Palestinian citizens of Israel. Therefore, the ban that the police are implementing is unlawful.


    CLICK HERE to read more about the Court decision


Mr. Barakeh was released more than 6 hours after his initial detention, and the remaining detainees were subsequently released in the evening, but under restrictive conditions, including a prohibition on entering Nazareth  for up to 14 days.


Dr. Hassan Jabareen, the General Director of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, who represents Mr. Barakeh and the Balad political leaders, commented:


“Just yesterday, the Israeli Supreme Court delivered a ruling emphasizing that the police have no authority to sweepingly and arbitrarily ban protests by Palestinian citizens in Israel, even during times of War. Today, however, we are witnessing a draconian ban implemented by police on the ground, with the intention of silencing all forms of criticism and suppressing the freedom of expression and assembly of Palestinian citizens and their leaders. These detentions are blatantly illegal, and are clearly aimed at obstructing Palestinian political activity that falls within the confines of the law.”