Banned ‘flags of incitement’ removed on Israel Independence Day

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir applauds the move, having banned the “flag of incitement” as one of his first acts as minister.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In line with a policy declared months ago by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, police removed Palestinian flags hanging in several northern districts Wednesday, including in Israeli-Arab towns, Channel 14 reported.

This included taking down flags hung along Route 65 near Wadi Ara, in parking lots, and prominently over the building of the Hadash party branch in Nazareth. These were places where the flags had been hanging for years, the report said.

Hadash is a communist, non-Zionist, Arab-Israeli party whose leader, Ayman Odeh, heads the Joint List consisting of several Arab factions in the Knesset. It formally supports the maximalist Palestinian position that Israel should withdraw from all the territories it liberated in the 1967 Six-Day War and make eastern Jerusalem the capital of a Palestinian state.

“I congratulate the police commissioner and the district commanders for their determined and professional action,” Ben-Gvir said. “Our policy is sharp and clear on this issue as well; we will not allow flags of incitement and support for terrorism on any day, and certainly not on Israeli Independence Day.”

Israel celebrated its 75th Independence Day on Wednesday.

It is not officially illegal to fly the red, green, black and white flag of the Palestinian Authority, and its forerunner, the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Based on the PLO’s use of the flag, Ben-Gvir had announced as one of his first acts as a minister in January that “all police officers of any rank are authorized in the course of police work to pull down flags of the Palestinian Authority” found in any public places, because they are to be considered “a form of supporting terror.”

The flag is also waved by Arab-Israelis in most, if not all, pro-Palestinian demonstrations, such as those by Arab students in Israeli universities when they protest Israel’s establishment on May 15, the Georgian date of independence that Israel’s foes call the Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe.”

The police have long had the authority to remove any display if it “threatens public order.” Ben-Gvir believes that any show of the Palestinian flag does exactly that, and the right-wing sector agrees with him.

Matan Peleg, CEO of the Zionist Im Tirtzu movement, said in January that the ban was correct because “it should be understood that the purpose of raising the PLO flag is to rebel against the State of Israel and convey a message that there is room for a terrorist entity within the territory of the state. Today, it is already clear to everyone what the connection is between waving the flag of terror and encouraging the nationalist extremism and violence of Israeli Arabs.”

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A bill banning the hoisting of an “enemy flag,” including that of the PLO, in places budgeted or supported by the state, such as universities, passed in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation under the previous government last May but has not progressed yet in the Knesset.

However, the minister may have celebrated a little too early. According to a Haaretz report, police sources said they had removed the flags from the Hadash branch because it was a “provocation” to fly them on Israeli Independence day but they would be returned once the holiday is over.