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Rights of Demonstrators in Palestine

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 06 August 2012

  Rights of Demonstrators in Palestine


by Stephen Lendman


Last September, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) published an "Informational Pamphlet for Demonstrators in the Occupied Territories."


It provided "coping strategies." Free societies permit peaceful demonstrations. They also allow free expression. In Occupied Palestine, Israel prohibits both. Doing so violates fundamental international law.


Since 1967, Israeli decreed all rallies and demonstrations illegal without express permit permission. According to ACRI:


"The sweeping ban on the organization of demonstrations, the unreasonable restrictions placed upon them, and the forced dispersal of quiet and peaceful demonstrations - which are all practiced in the West Bank – represent a serious and severe infringement on the right to demonstrate and on freedom of speech, as well as a clear violation of the rules of international law that are incumbent on the occupying power."


Coping strategies help Palestinians and others handle Israeli persecution.


Military repression governs Occupied Palestine. The Order Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Actions (Order No. 101) prohibits 10 or more persons assembling in one place publicly for politically related purposes.


Doing so requires permit permission. Larger rallies are called "illegal assemblies." Violent security force confrontations disperse them. Doing so violates international law.


Force is only justified if legitimate security risks or public safety concerns exist. Maintaining law and order is proper. Exceeding appropriate authority constitutes abuse of power.


Crowd Control: What's permitted, what's prohibited?


Legitimately dispersing demonstrations requires doing it nonviolently with "minimal use of force." Anything harmful or threatening is prohibited.


Under appropriate circumstances, warning shots may be fired in the air only after lesser measures were tried and failed to control threats to public safety.


In apprehending persons suspected of serious crimes, firing at their legs is permitted as a last resort, provided public safety isn't endangered.


Rubber-coated bullets may be used "if and only if lesser measures" failed. Firing is forbidden within 40 meters. So is aiming at upper body parts and targeting children.


Firing tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators is prohibited.


Public Photography


Free information and expression include "the right to photograph, film, and documents incidents, and to gather information."


It's prohibited only if public order and safety are endangered.


Closed Military Zone Order: Who's Authorized to Declare It and Under What Conditions?


Authorities permitted to do so include the IDF's Central Command head, his deputy, a brigade commander, or Jerusalem Area Border Police chief. Declaring it's only permitted to maintain public order.


Written signed orders with clear reference maps delineating boundaries are required. Verifying them is required with the following information: the precise area, date of expiration, for whom the order applies, and date signed.


Soldiers presenting an order must identify themselves. Proper documentation must be in order. Soldiers or police have eviction authority. Unauthorized persons in closed military zones may not be arrested or detained unless warned to leave and they refused.


The order doesn't apply to closed area residents.


Arresting and Detaining Demonstrators: When It's Permitted


Soldiers or police may arrest and detain when individuals are suspected of criminal activity, intent to commit it, or other acts endangering public safety or security.


Also if they witnessed a crime, to conduct a search, or to obtain identifying documents.


Authorities making detentions must identify themselves, inform the person it's about detention, and for what reason.


Detentions are prohibited for "deterrence, intimidation, or punishment."


Length of Detention


Shortest possible duration only is permitted for legitimate reasons. Exceeding three hours is prohibited unless a high-ranking military officer or authorized police personnel extends it for another three hours with reasons recorded in writing.


Detentions should always be where person held were apprehended, except when suspects or witnesses appear before investigative authorities.


Detention locations must have "reasonable waiting conditions with proper food and water provided." Handcuffing and blindfolding are prohibited.


If detentions exceed three hours, apprehending soldiers or police must fill out a detainment report.


When Can Demonstrators Be Arrested?


Arrests must be for exceptional reasons only, never for punishment. According to the Order Concerning Security Provisions, soldiers or police may arrest individuals who acted illegally or were about to do so.


Rights of Those Arrested


Arresting soldiers or police must identify themselves and explain reasons for apprehension. Transfer to a police station or detention location must be soon as soon as possible.


If medical attention is needed, providing it is required without delay. Other than under exceptional circumstances, contact with legal counsel privately is required under conditions to assure confidentiality.


Length of Initial Arrest Period


Eight days maximum are allowed. If arrest orders aren't issued within 96 hours, release is required. Persons apprehended must be brought before a judge within eight days or less. Ideally as soon as possible.


Extending Arrest Periods


Judges only may authorize them for up to 30 days at a time, not to exceed 90 days. Only a military appeals court can order longer periods up to an additional three months.


Presence at Arrest Hearings


Persons arrested must be allowed to appear unless health conditions don't permit it. Legal counsel can represent them if unable to be present.


Arrested persons are permitted to have lawyers with them at all hearings.


Conditional or Unconditional Release


Police or judges may order detainees released, either conditionally or unconditionally. Lawyers can petition courts for release.


If judicial releases are ordered, prosecutors may request stays up to 72 hours to appeal or administratively detain individuals uncharged. Judges have sole decision-making authority.


Conditional releases may involve guarantees, such as bail, bond, or arrestee or guarantor money deposits.


Additional release conditions may include requiring court or investigation appearances on specified days at designated times. Restraining orders and/or travel restrictions may be imposed. Attorneys should be consulted before agreeing to any requested terms.


Unreasonable conditions should be rejected. For example, forbidding participation in peaceful demonstrations or sweeping prohibitions of activities otherwise permitted.


If unreasonable conditions are imposed, judicial appeals are possible. Filing them within seven days is required.


Violating release conditions provides grounds for rearrest. Bail and/or other release conditions are canceled if indictments aren't filed within two years from the day release conditions were signed. 


The only exception is when they were extended an additional three months.


The Investigation: Useful Information


The investigating officer is required to explain charges, the right to remain silent, and to have legal counsel present.


If detainee has no knowledge of or involvement in the detention reason, it should be stated straightaway.


Detainees are entitled to be interrogated in their native language or another they understand.


After interrogation ends, detainee should receive a written transcript. Reading it for possible errors is important. It must be prepared in language used during interrogation. Otherwise, it's important not to sign it. Sign nothing not understood and agreed to.


Rest breaks are required if interrogations are lengthy or conducted late at night. If force, threats, or intimidation are used, it's important to request information on it be included in transcript material


Additional Rights Granted Minors During Interrogations


Israeli military law considers children under age 16 minors. Under international law, it's age 18. Investigating minors must be done by specially trained personnel. Israeli military legislation on this is absent.


ACRI's position is as follows:


A parent or close relative must be present. Daytime only interrogations may be conducted. Video and/or audio recordings should be made.


Israel systematically violates international legal standards with regard to peaceful demonstrations, arrests, excessive violence, other abuses, detentions, interrogations, and related practices. 


Palestinians are denied all rights. Challenging this abuse of power is essential. Failure permits it to continue unaccountable. 


ACRI provided the above information so Palestinians and others know their rights. Coping with Israeli repression is another matter altogether.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 


His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"


Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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