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2020 saw sharp spike in threats, harassment of Israeli judges – report

Data shows judges filed 29 complaints last year over alleged harassment toward them, up nearly fivefold from 2019

A High Court of Justice hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on May 4, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP)
A High Court of Justice hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on May 4, 2020. (Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP)

The harassment and threatening of judges spiked in 2020, with nearly five times as many complaints filed than in the preceding year, according to a report Thursday.

Judges filed 29 complaints last year alleging harassment and threats toward them, Channel 12 news reported, citing figures obtained through a freedom of information request by Hatzlacha, a consumer advocacy group.

In 2019, judges filed six such complaints, along with another two for property damage.

So far this year, three harassment complaints have been filed by judges, a rate below last year’s but on track to surpass the total in 2019.

The data also showed a retired judge has a security detail due to threats against him, and that a current judge was provided security in 2019. The report said these security services cost NIS 1 million ($310,0000) a year.

“There is great public importance in monitoring the threats and levels of risk directed at symbols of government in Israel, among them judges. It is also important on a practical level to ensure those performing judicial work won’t be threatened in a way that will harm their positions, independence and professional judgment,” Elad Man, Hatzlacha’s legal adviser, told the television network.

He added: “The issue is also important in terms of public awareness about threats of this type.”

The report did not specify what was behind the rise in harassment but noted it came amid increased scrutiny of Israel’s judicial and law enforcement systems, which have faced growing criticism over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial and from right-wing Israelis who oppose what they view as an activist judiciary.

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