Israel Police summons social protest leaders to help 'prepare' forces for summer rallies
Police issue statement claiming summons are a means to prepare in a 'better manner' for potential summer protests.
Several leaders of last summer's social protests have been called in for interviews at police stations around the country, in what officials said was an attempt to better prepare its forces for the reprise of demonstrations this summer.
Some activists received summonses in the mail, while others have been visited personally by officers. One such visit yesterday caused some anxiety at the home of Tamir Hajaj, who said his 17-year-old daughter called him in a panic to tell him police officers had come to their home looking for him. Hajaj told his daughter to give the officers his cellphone number.
"They phoned and said I was being called in for investigation," Hajaj said. "When I asked why, they said they want to know my plans for the summer." Hajaj said that last year he kept in touch with police, briefing them on events and demonstrations he organized.
"I think it's because I'm one of the leaders of the social protest and I received a permit to erect a big tent in Rabin Square [in Tel Aviv] on July 1. Everyone knows it'll be the opening shot of the summer, and apparently that frightened them," Hajaj said. "The police already knew my phone number. My daughters are stressed out over it. I'm in shock over the police choosing to come to my house to look for me. There's a much easier way to find me. It smells a little fishy to me," he said.
The executive director of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow, Yael Ben Yefet, who until recently was on the Tel Aviv City Council representing the opposition party Ir Lekulanu, also received a mysterious summons to speak to the police.
"It's absurd; it's really starting to remind me of oppressive regimes. The purpose is to frighten us. It's incomprehensible that people are being summoned before any supposed offense has allegedly taken place," Ben Yefet said. She added: "I don't know whether I will go, since according to consultations I've held, the summons isn't legal."
Israel Police issued a statement that did not refer to any particular activist, but which did say: "All we want to do by summonsing these activists is to prepare ourselves and them in a better manner for the summer months, in the event there is an intention to return to demonstrating."