‘Crossing a red line’: Left-wing signs depicting names, faces of cops under investigation

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir expressed his “full backing” for the officers, who demonstrators claim used excessive force when dispersing protests.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The police opened an investigation into anti-judicial reform activists who demonstrated on Saturday evening holding signs displaying the faces and full names of officers whom they claim used violence to disperse protests.

Posters with images of the officers, along with their first and last names, were pasted on walls throughout Tel Aviv, as well as printed on signs held by left-wing demonstrators during the weekly protest in the city.

Underneath the images of the police officers and their names, the signs included the word “warning!” and captions such as “this officer beats protesters while they’re lying on the ground.”

“The Israel Police calls on the public to refrain from posting materials that slander officers and harm their families,” the police said in a statement.

Police said that they would investigate those who printed and held the signs on suspicion of defamation, incitement to violence, and insulting a public official.

However, the State Prosecutors’ Office informed the police on Sunday morning that they “do not have the authority” to launch a probe into the signs, according to a Kan News report.

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National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said that he supports the officers, who are “heroes who risk their lives every day for our security.” In a statement, he added that the “campaign of shaming and incitement… is shocking and crosses a red line” and that the officers have his “full backing.”

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said that those with concerns about specific officers’ use of force should file a formal complaint with the authorities rather than subjecting them to a public “trial by fire.”

Shabtai emphasized that “these police officers have families and children, they have contributed decades to security.”

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel slammed the probe, claiming the signs fall under the protections of free speech.

“There is no basis for harassing protesters for waving signs that tell the truth. Instead of harassing demonstrators and trying to harm freedom of expression, police would be better served ensuring that its officers don’t again employ cruel and sadistic violence [against protesters],” said ACRI’s Avner Pinchuk in a statement.