Leftist activist fined for using a megaphone at East Jerusalem protest
Nature and Parks Authority inspector fines demonstrator for ‘making noise’ outside a meeting of right-wing group Elad, despite the use of a sound system at the event itself.
A leftist activist who demonstrated in East Jerusalem against the Elad Association was fined by a Nature and Parks Authority inspector for “using a megaphone” outside the right-wing organization’s annual convention last Thursday.
Elad, the Hebrew acronym for To the City of David, runs the City of David National Park and archaeological excavations in Silwan, an Arab village in East Jerusalem. The group also strives to buy properties from their Palestinian owners in order to settle Jewish residents in the village.
A group of Solidarity activists demonstrated against the convention at the entrance to the national park on Thursday. After the demonstration ended, as the protesters were making their way to their cars, policemen turned to one of the demonstrators, Yael Kenan, and requested her identity card.
Kenan was in charge of the megaphone during the demonstration. After an argument between the police and the demonstrators, the police officer handed Kenan’s ID card to Shmuel Kadoshi, an NPA inspector. Kadoshi was joined by the NPA’s Jerusalem district director, Eviatar Cohen, who helped Kadoshi write the report. Cohen, who lives in the settlement of Ofra, was once a senior Elad employee.
Kenan was slapped with a NIS 365 fine for “making noise with a megaphone at the national park around the walls of Jerusalem.” According to the report, Kenan’s action violated the national parks bylaws – despite the fact that neither Kenan nor any of the other demonstrators was in the park at the time of the demonstration, but rather in Silwan’s main street, Wadi Hilweh. The area where the demonstration took place, however, is defined as part of the national park.
At the same time the demonstrators “made noise,” the Elad convention, an outdoor gathering that was attended by several hundred people, used a public address system that could be heard all over the area.
“The most amazing thing was that they didn’t even try to hide the connection between the various authorities,” Keinan said. “I believe the Jerusalem district director of the Nature and Parks Authority has more important things to do than to monitor the writing of such a report. It is a crude example of abusing power.”
“The entire time I told myself I was lucky to be a Jewish political activist, because Palestinian activists would have been treated much worse,” Kenan added.
The NPA responded that “Eviatar Cohen is the director of the authority’s Jerusalem District, which includes all the eastern areas, as well as Emek Ha’arazim to the west. This huge area has been undergoing large-scale development of its nature reserve in recent years. Any claim concerning alleged identification with the Elad Association is baseless.” The NPA added that all the facts noted in the inspector’s report were true.