New law limits demonstrations in Israel

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Weekly demonstration against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies. Screenshot Channel 13

The Knesset passed an amendment to the government’s coronavirus law Wednesday morning, allowing protesters to travel no more than a mile from their homes to attend a demonstration.

Along with the law, a “special state of emergency” was declared, which the cabinet must ratify three times a week. The statement will be submitted to the Constitutional Commission together with the decision to extend it. The commission can reverse the state of emergency with retroactive effect.

A special state of emergency does not allow the government to completely ban prayers, protests or religious ceremonies, but it can place restrictions on related gatherings and limit the number of participants. In addition, it will allow the government to restrict protesters from demonstrating outside the designated radius of their homes, currently one kilometer.

This special law has temporarily banned major weekly demonstrations against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies.

Opponents of the law point out that Netanyahu was looking for ways to end the demonstrations and achieved his goal with this law.

The demonstrations will continue online, an online demonstration last Saturday attracted 500,000 participants.

On Tuesday evening, the Israeli army decided to stop placing soldiers at police checkpoints in Jerusalem to stop the lockdown to help maintain.

Defense Secretary Benny Gantz said placing soldiers at police checkpoints near demonstrations is a “mistake that has already been addressed and will not be repeated.”

This decision came after activists who traveled to the Knesset to protest an amendment that would ban demonstrations further than a mile from their homes earlier on Tuesday documented verbal altercations with soldiers stationed near parliament, causing some protesters delayed and did not reach the demonstration on time.

Gantz urged the Israeli military and police to step out of the political debate and vehemently condemned any “attempt to attack soldiers and officers in the line of duty”.

“The government sets policy,” said Gantz. The IDF spokesperson also issued a statement saying that soldiers “are not authorized to carry out any form of enforcement on the civilian population.”

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