Webinar: Freedom of Protest and Police Brutality

On 26 May 2024, Zulat held a webinar on the topic of police violence at demonstrations, shortly after disturbing scenes of police brutality against worshipers on Mount Meron aired in the media. We were then astonished to hear National Security Minister Itamar BenGvir declare that he would suspend several cops, after for a whole year he ignored the violence toward protesters demonstrating against the regime revolution and for the return of the hostages held in Gaza. Police violence is not a new phenomenon, but a result of the political echelon‘s emasculation of a body meant to serve the Israeli public and an attempt to turn the Israel Police into the minister’s personal militia.

Practical solutions on how to deal with this violence came up in the discussion moderated by independent journalist Or-Li Barlev, who noted that “the protesters chant to the police that they are there for them too. I hear about cops and officers quitting the service in the last year and a half, not only because of the work conditions but also because of the message coming from the top. Protesting against the injustices committed by the police is the only tool at the people’s disposal. It is a basic tool that must not be harmed.

Ayala Metzger, daughter-in-law of the hostage Yoram Metzger: “They initially treated us with kid gloves, but as time went by we realized they were making a clear distinction between the families of the hostages and the ‘anarchists’. The watershed moment came in Jerusalem, when we were making our way to the prime minister’s official residence. What we are doing is not a crime, but quite the opposite: We want to bring the hostages back home. The police must understand that their duty is to keep law and order for the citizenry rather than to serve an ignorant minister.”

Former MK Gabi Lasky, a defense attorney for arrested protesters: Every era has its own spirit, but demonstrating in Israel was never a pleasure or viewed positively. Since the start of the protest against the regime revolution, some policemen have perfected their skills and become criminals protected by the law. They operate unlawfully, with Skunk water cannons, mounted police, and other tools.”

MK Naama Lazimi, chair of the Knesset Youth Committee: “We are in the midst of a revolution in the Israel Police, as a continuation of the regime revolution. The police are an essential body in a democratic state. This is the only police force we have and we must not ignore what is happening there. We come across great cops, but at the end we also meet the brutality that is undoing the police. The police play a deep social and community role in a normal democratic country.”

Former MK Mazen Ghnaim, mayor of Sakhnin and chairman of the National Committee of Local Arab Authorities in Israel: “The police are quite trigger-happy at demonstrations of the Arab community. BenGvir promised a recurrence of the violence during the 2014 war in Gaza, but the behavior of Arab society has been exemplary. He seeks to inflame the street, but the Arab leadership calms it down.”

Former MK David Tzur, retired commander of Israel Police‘s Tel Aviv District: “I am extremely disturbed that even if the legislation sought by BenGvir is not advancing, under the guise of setting policy he has actually wrested away powers and become the Israel Police’s uber-commissioner. It is critical to have courageous police commanders to face the political echelon.

The discussion must not focus on the police, as this is tantamount to killing the messenger. Former Tel Aviv District Commander Ami Eshed was a professional police officer, who became the victim of a criminal. The problem is not the officers, but the man who appoints them.”

WATCH (Hebrew, no subtitles):



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.