Report shows police bias against ultra-Orthodox protesters

In 2022 and 2023, charges for illegal assembly were filed only against the ultra-Orthodox community.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Israeli police have discriminated against ultra-Orthodox demonstrators for years, legal help group Honenu testified to the Knesset this week, saying that only members of the ultra-Orthodox community have been charged with illegal assembly, despite numerous instances of similarly unauthorized protests organized by non-Orthodox demonstrators.

In a Knesset debate over police handling of protests, Honenu presented a report that showed that ultra-Orthodox (haredi) demonstrators are targeted for charges of illegal assembly. In contrast, other protesters aren’t charged with any offense.

The Knesset discussion concerned the ways in which law enforcement handles public demonstrations and threats against public officials.

Israelis who have been demonstrating against the government on behalf of the hostages testified about claims of mistreatment at the hands of police.

MK Gilad Kariv asked, “I would like to know how many detentions and arrests of protesters have been carried out and how many police reports have been filed as sorted by place and protest.”

After families of hostages described their negative experiences with the police during protests, Attorney Menashe Yado from the Honenu legal aid organization declared, “In 2022 and 2023, charges for illegal assembly were filed only against the haredi community – the least protected demographic.’’

Committee Chairman Simcha Rothman responded, “I would like the police and prosecution to provide a breakdown of the data, as there are things here that should disturb everyone.”

He added, “If there were so many illegal assemblies and charges were filed against only one demographic, that is a serious issue.’’

Honenu is a legal advocacy group that seeks to protect the rights of settlers in Judea and Samaria.

According to Honenu’s report, despite the many months of daily protests last summer against the government’s judicial reform plan and the more recent anti-government demonstrations during the Gaza war, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox have been the only demographic to have been targeted with charges of illegal assembly.

Recently, the ultra-Orthodox community has faced a significant change, with ultra-Orthodox MKs giving their initial approval of a proposal that would draft at least a quarter of all yeshiva students into the army.

Moreover, that number could be increased to 50% in the coming years, which would mean some 6,000 additional annual recruits to the IDF.