In previous posts, we reported that the Israel Defense Force declared the Palestinian villages of Bil’in and Na’alin closed military zones on Fridays for a period of six months . Friday is the day on which the villagers, joined by Israeli and International supporters, hold their weekly demonstration against the Wall which separates them from their agricultural land.
Now Haaretz reports that Israeli advocacy groups and attorneys are harshly criticizing the IDF closures as a breach of freedom of speech.
From Yesh Din:
The IDF is trampling on freedom of speech in a place that has turned into a symbol of protest.
From Michael Sfard, a legal adviser to Yesh Din:
Whoever signed this new order has apparently lost all sense of shame and pretense of representing a regime respecting freedom of speech and the rights of individuals to protest. The grassroots rally in Bil’in has turned into a symbol of the cooperative Palestinian-Israeli campaign against the injustice and land appropriation caused by the separation fence.
From Limor Yehuda, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel:
This order will specifically prevent Israeli and foreign activists – recognized as moderating forces at the rallies – from participating, and therefore raises questions about the considerations behind it.
On the same day, an editorial in Haaretz characterizes the closures as “anti-democractic ..,.revolting and ridiculous.” It also constrasts the lenient treatment given to violent settlers with the military closure imposed on Palestinian demonstrators and their supporters.
There has never been such a radical move against rightist demonstrations or settlers in the territories. While settlers run amok, burning fields and uprooting trees, damaging property and spreading terror as part of their criminal “price tag” policy, the IDF and the police stand idly by. When the left wants to protest and demonstrate, the IDF declares the area to be a closed military zone.