Human Rights Index – Survey No. 10, February 2024

The findings of a survey conducted in late February as part of the Human Rights Index of Zulat and the Institute for Freedom and Responsibility (IFR) at Reichman University show that the public recognizes the importance of safeguarding the right to demonstrate. Five months after the October 7th massacre, a substantial majority of 73% believe it is important that Israel should protect this right even in wartime.

The survey sought to examine public attitudes toward upholding the right to protest, both in principle (whether the state should anchor this right in legislation and protect it) and in the concrete context of the current protests about issues on the public agenda. The findings indicate that the majority clearly and consistently support defending the right to protest, both in theory and in practice.

Since Israel does not have a constitution and the right to demonstrate is not enshrined in legislation, the survey examined to what extent respondents believe this right should be protected by means of an explicit Basic Law: 66% agree that it should (34% “quite agree” and 31% “strongly agree”). While the overall percentage of respondents who subscribed to this view was similarly high among both Arab and Jewish respondents (71% and 65%, respectively), the level of agreement within each group differed: among Arab respondents, the number of those who “strongly agreed” that this was necessary (45%) was much higher than the number of those who “somewhat agreed” (26%), while among Jewish respondents only 28% “strongly agreed” and 36% “somewhat agreed.

Another question in the survey sought to examine the level of support for the state limiting its citizens’ right to protest on issues that are currently the subject of demonstrations: release of the hostages held by Hamas, against providing humanitarian aid to Gaza, for bringing forward the Knesset elections, and in favor of ending the fighting and cutting the harm to uninvolved civilians in the Gaza Strip. Some of these protests address issues that enjoy broader public consensus, such as the release of the hostages, while others are perceived as more politically contentious and divisive, such as early elections or the demand to stop the fighting. The findings clearly indicate that the majority is against any government restrictions whatsoever on the right to protest: 63% of the public (respondents who “somewhat


disagree” and “strongly disagree”) are against restrictions on protests about ending the fighting and reducing the harm to uninvolved civilians, 67% oppose restrictions on protests about advancing the elections, 74% are against limiting demonstrations about stopping humanitarian aid to Gaza, and 77% oppose restricting protests for the release of the hostages.

The majority against restricting protests persists even when segmented by political camp, but stances in the Right fluctuate much more than in the Left and Center: an overwhelming majority of 80%-86% on the Left oppose restrictions across all issues and so do 74% in the Center, except when it comes to the release of the hostages (84%). In contrast, on the Right, a distinction is made between protest issues: 73%-74% oppose restricting protests about the release of hostages and preventing humanitarian aid to Gaza, while a narrower majority of 59% oppose restricting protests about advancing the elections and 52% oppose restricting protests in favor of ending the war and reducing harm to uninvolved civilians in Gaza. This points to significant support among right-wing voters for restricting the right to protest on such issues as advancing the elections and ending the war and relatively low support for restricting the right to protest on other issues: 33% advocate restricting protests in support of early elections, while 46% believe the right to demonstrate in favor of ending the war and reducing harm to uninvolved civilians in Gaza should be restricted.

The question of how important it is that Israel should protect the right to demonstrate, which had been posed in previous Human Rights Index surveys, was asked again this time. Most respondents (73%) said it was important to a great or very great extent, a finding that has remained stable and risen slightly in the past year, even during the five months of the ongoing war. In July 2023, during the massive public protests against the regime revolution, 70% said the state should protect the right to demonstrate, a position that remained unchanged in late November 2023 and late February 2024, almost six months after the massive anti-government protests subsided in the wake of October 7th.

The fact that the public continues to overwhelmingly support the right to protest even during war and an ongoing national crisis, coupled with their opposition to restrictions of the right to demonstrate even on controversial issues generated by this crisis, shows that the Israeli public espouses strong democratic convictions about freedom of protest.

This survey was conducted for the Zulat-IFR Human Rights Index on 25-29 February 2024. The data was collected online by the iPanel company among 1,508 adults (1,233 Jewish respondents and 275 Arab respondents, in Hebrew and Arabic respectively), who constitute a representative sample of Israeli society. The maximum margin of error of the sample is 2.5%.

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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.