A-G rips gov’t ban on terrorists’ families attending alternative Remembrance Day ceremony

Their entry has been allowed for years, Attorney General tells Supreme Court, although Israel annually activates a security closure for Remembrance and Independence Days.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s attorney general told the High Court of Justice Friday that the government is not allowed to ban terrorists’ families from attending an alternative Remembrance Day ceremony in Israel that equates the losses suffered on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Gali Baharav-Miara wrote in her official opinion that “from a legal perspective, there is no room to deviate from the outline that was drawn by previous rulings.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had decided 10 days ago not to allow the Palestinians to enter the country from Monday night, Remembrance Day eve, through all of the following day, when Israel will celebrate its 75th birthday, citing the general closure of Judea and Samaria due to security concerns.

Baharav-Miara wrote that as in past years, “thousands” of Palestinians will be allowed in through the security checkpoints as exceptions to the rule and that “no professional or factual infrastructure was present to justify [the minister’s] deviation for previous High Court rulings” prohibiting these specific entries.

Around 180 Palestinians had registered to attend the ceremony in the Ganei Yehoshua Park in Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon, along with some 4,000 Israelis. The organizers are two left-wing Israeli NGOs, Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle-Families Forum.

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In appealing Gallant’s decision to the court, the groups argued that it violated their freedom of expression and democratic values, as it denies families the right to express their grief and impedes the goal of facilitating peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

The attorney-general’s office said that the Defense Ministry and any other relevant bodies should hand in their reaction to the petition and the new legal opinion by Sunday.

In the announcement about its 18th version of event, Combatants for Peace said it wants to “challenge the status quo” where Israel honors the 23,928 soldiers and civilians who have fallen in the country’s defense and in Palestinian terror attacks. It called out the solemn ceremonies that take place throughout the country as “reinforc[ing] cultural narratives of pain, victimhood, and hopelessness.” Instead, by joining together with the perpetrators’ loved ones “to mourn each other’s pain,” the group aims to “transform despair into hope and build bridges of compassion.”

The last time the government managed to ban the Palestinians’ entry to the alternative ceremony, not including the Covid-19 shutdown in the last three years, was in 2017.