Hidden cameras stripped from Likud election observers in Arab towns

Likud election observers were found with hidden cameras at Arab polling stations on Tuesday. One source said they wanted to make sure the Arabs didn’t falsify the vote.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Israeli police confiscated as many as 1,300 cameras from Likud party election observers at Arab polling stations on Tuesday, Israel’s Channel 13 reports. The Likud admitted to distributing the cameras.

The Likud observers were caught in a number of Arab towns, including Sakhnin, Majd al-Krum, Nazareth, Tamra and Jisr al-Zarqa, the news site reports. After they handed over or placed their cameras outside the polling stations, the volunteers were allowed to return to work.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the presence of cameras, saying on Tuesday, “There should be cameras everywhere, not hidden ones.” When a reporter asked why he thought they were needed he said, to “ensure a fair vote.”

Placing cameras at a polling station isn’t a criminal offense, police say, unless they’re installed behind the privacy divider where people choose their ballots.

Members of Arab parties attacked the use of cameras. “The installation of hidden cameras by the Likud at the ballot boxes in Arab towns is an unacceptable and extreme violation of the secrecy of the elections and an attempt to deter Arab voters from realizing their democratic right,” said MK Dov Khenin, according to Channel 13. Khenin is a member of the Arab Joint List in the current Knesset.

Israeli daily Ha’aretz quoted a statement from the Arab Hadash-Ta’al list, which said, “The radical right fully understands the power we have to overthrow those in power, and [they] cross every red line through illegal measures in an attempt to intervene [in the election] and prevent the Arab citizens from voting. But we also understand the power we have, and today we are going out to vote and nothing will stop us.”

Ha’aretz also reports that a right-wing activist said that “the move was aimed to preserve the purity of the election and to assure that Ra’am-Balad won’t pass the threshold through falsification.”

After the discovery, Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Hanan Melcer issued a directive prohibiting filming voters inside polling stations, “except in the case of a special incident,” The Times of Israel reported.