Police summon social protest leaders for interrogation

Leftist MK warns that move makes Israel akin to ‘totalitarian regimes’

A social protest movement demonstration in Tel Aviv last summer (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
A social protest movement demonstration in Tel Aviv last summer (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Leftist politicians expressed outrage on Tuesday over the police decision to bring in several leaders of the social protest movement for questioning, hinting that such a move might be undemocratic.

Although police officials said that the interviews are merely a way for the law enforcement authorities to better prepare for the wave of social protests expected this summer, MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) argued that “summoning social activists to an investigation is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.”

Tuesday’s Haaretz reported that the police ordered subpoenas for a number of the activists who led last year’s protests, most of whom regarded the summonses as scare tactics, not to mention illegal.

Yael Ben Yefet, a former Tel Aviv councilwoman and the executive director of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow, who received a summons from the police, told Haaretz: “It’s absurd; it’s really starting to remind me of oppressive regimes. The purpose is to frighten us. It’s incomprehensible that people are being summoned before any supposed offense has allegedly taken place… I don’t know whether I will go, since according to consultations I’ve held, the summons isn’t legal.”

According to media reports, while some social protest leaders received typical summonses by mail, police officers have also made home visits to some activists.

The police issued a statement which read: “All we want to do by summonsing these activists is to prepare ourselves and them in a better manner for the summer months, in the event that there is an intention to return to demonstrating.”

However, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told participants at the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce on Tuesday: “We must speak out against the criticism of the business sector and should not be afraid to go against the social protest movement.”

Steinitz also argued that the social protests undermine the government’s efforts to create a stable economy in the face of the global financial crisis and the challenges of globalization.

Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) called on Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino to “immediately halt the investigation of the social protest activists. Their investigation on what they plan to do, without doing anything against the law, is a dangerous crossing of the line,” according to Channel 10 news.

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