Democracy Beware

A little over 2 weeks ago, the Israeli Activist group, New Profile, was raided, arrested, computers confiscated and members interrogated. My favorite part was when they were told they weren’t to contact each other for 30 days. Then when 24 feminist organizations protested (from young women to grandmas of 80 and a few courageous men), eight of them were violently dragged into the police station and were put under arrest over night.

Journalists Beware
Gideon Levy, reporter for Ha’aretz, wrote the only print article on the issue (there were a couple articles on online mainstream news site, Walla [1, 2 Hebrew]), originally titled "Poets Beware":

"Yitzhak Laor, our best protest poet, may soon face arrest. On Independence Day eve he published a poem in Haaretz’s literary supplement with the lines: "Perhaps shame prevents me from getting up to embrace my son / And warning him of those who want to enlist him." Arresting Laor for having written such lines may sound like fiction, but something similar has already happened…

Locking up three and a half million Palestinians in the occupied territories and denying them basic human rights has already undermined Israel’s pretentions of democracy, but now dangerous cracks are appearing in our Jews-only democracy. They aren’t new – they first appeared in the early years of independence – and now they’re back. Those who make light of the recent arrests may soon find themselves dealing with a new regime instead of New Profile. "

What Levy didn’t dare utter out loud, was that he himself may be in danger. Yesterday, Amira Hass, reporter for Ha’aretz, who’s been living in Gaza, off and on, was arrested exiting the strip. She was immediately taken to interrogation, at the end of which, she was told not to go into Gaza for 30 days. 

Just to clarify the situation: Hass is Ha’aretz’s corespondent in Gaza. She lives there, in order to do her job (it was her choice, but Ha’aretz has been benefiting from her reporting, as a paper touting it’s own Leftism). In order to get home, this time, she had to go via European aid ship. Her arrest isn’t exactly top news at Ha’aretz (which never would have happened, had Ha’aretz actually had the Leftist values it claims to). Hass’ case will be brought to court.  

Citizens Beware
The law Hass violated is a martial law, "Major-General Directive" that was established in 1945 (before Israel was declared), by the British. It’s an "emergency regulation" which, in effect, allows the Commander in Chief of the IDF to enact laws (from Wikipedia, limited by my translation):

"The aim of the directive, as stated in the law, is securing the public’s safety, Israel’s defense, maintaining public order, or suppressing an uprising, rebellion or riot. The directive will be given for the following reasons: 

  1. Limiting peoples movements and closing an area;
  2. Prohibition of carrying certain objects;
  3. Limiting vocation or passing of information between people;


  • On March of 2005, as part of the Disengagement, a Major-General directive was issued that prohibits the changing of one’s place of residence to Gaza. [I'd just like to add a minor discrepancy: If living in Gaza is a crime, doesn't making Hass promise, she won't enter Gaza, seem superfluous? Kind of like making a serial killer sign a paper that he won't kill for 30 days... ]
  • On July 13th of 2005, a Major-General directive came into force that closed in Gush Katif [settlement bloc in Gaza], and prevented entrance of Israeli citizens, who aren’t it’s permanent residents.
  • On April 30th, 2007, The Peace Court in Jerusalem, found Mordechai Vanunu guilty of violation of 15 Major-General directives.
  • In the Golan Hights, where there’s a lack of military training grounds, the Major-General is permitted, under certain circumstances, to turn grazing ground into a military training firing range."


More fun facts about Major-General directive:

"Provisions in the regulations permit the establishment of military tribunals to try civilians without the right to appeal, prohibitions on the publication of books and newspapers, house demolitions, indefinite administrative detention, extensive powers of search and seizure, the sealing off of territories and the imposition of curfews."

Now, where’s international law when you need it…


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