Israel’s High Court of Justice on Wednesday rejected a petition by the communist party Hadash demanding that police allow anti-war protests in the Arab towns of Umm al-Fahm and Sakhnin.
Police had earlier rejected the requests, saying the protests would impose a manpower burden and could lead to an “all-out flareup.”
Judge Yitzhak Amit said there was no basis for the petitioners’ claim that Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai had issued a sweeping ban on demonstrations generally, noting that police had made it clear that each request for a demonstration would be examined on its merits.
Amit emphasized the manpower argument in his decision, noting that police are working 12-hour shifts in the country’s coastal and northern districts, where Umm al-Fahm and Sakhnin are located.
“At this time, given the heavy workload the police have been dealing with for about a month, they are unable to allocate the manpower required to ensure public order in the protests that are the subject of the petition,” he said.
Judges Ruth Ronen and Yael Wilner agreed with Amit, focusing on the manpower issue.
Amit said that the verdict was “given against the background of the concrete circumstances that were presented to us,” adding, “This does not mean that at any time of war or throughout the duration of the fighting, there is no place for holding demonstrations.”
He emphasized that “the right to public criticism and political protest has not been withdrawn.” He suggested that the organizers consider holding a rally in a closed hall.