Ben-Gvir’s Police Exploits Law Deficiencies To Suppress Protests

>> Read the full position paper in pdf

This position paper discusses the steps to suppress anti-government demonstrations taken by the Israel Police since the Hamas terrorist attack on 7 October and the ensuing war in Gaza, and includes recommendations designed to strengthen the protection of the freedom of protest.

Since its founding, Israel’s legislation has included significant restrictions on the freedom of protest in the form of draconian provisions dating back to the pre-state British Mandate period, alongside extremely feeble protections of the right to demonstrate. A comprehensive report authored by Zulat (in collaboration with the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research), which was completed shortly before the start of the war in Gaza, surveyed Israeli legislation pertaining to the right to demonstrate and pronounced it a patchwork of outdated laws that leaves too many powers to suppress demonstrations in the hands of the police and law enforcement agencies.

It is estimated that 2024 will see a broad array of public protests by diverse groups, on such issues as the release of the hostages held by Hamas, bringing forward the date of Knesset elections, establishing a state commission of inquiry to look into the responsibility for the debacle of 7 October, the management of the war, national and personal insecurity in large parts of the country, the economic impact inflicted upon citizens displaced from their homes along the Gaza and Lebanon border and on the families of mobilized reservists, and more.

Given the shaky foundations of the legislation protecting freedom of protest and the extensive powers held by the Israel Police currently subordinate to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir (who makes no effort to conceal his orders to the police to suppress demonstrations that are not to the government’s liking, in violation of the law and the Attorney General’s position), a categorical response is needed to ensure that the public’s right to exercise freedom of protest is upheld.

Therefore, Zulat demands from the Attorney General and the State Attorney to closely and regularly monitor the conduct of the police and the national security minister with regard to the right of demonstration, even if no petition to this effect has been submitted to the Supreme Court. As suspicions arise about political interference and standing orders to restrict protests, it is imperative that these senior officials fulfill their critical roles in the defense of the basic freedoms of Israel’s citizens. They must keep an eye on the police’s conduct on the ground to ensure that they do not selectively enforce outdated and draconian legislation that contravenes longstanding court rulings safeguarding the freedom of protest.

In addition, Zulat recommends to urgently remedy the deficiencies in existing legislation and improve the protections of freedom of protest as proposed in the aforementioned report, first and foremost, to explicitly anchor in basic legislation the right to protest as well as to repeal draconian and anachronistic restrictions on freedom of protest that have no place in the legal system of a democratic state.


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.