Police officers Moti Kimche 21/05/2010
Police officers conducting a raid in Taibeh in May 2010 Photo by Moti Kimche
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The Justice Ministry is promoting an initiative that will allow police officers to perform body searches in public places that are prone to violence.

The ministry announced that the Knesset was set to vote on this new amendment to a public security law in the near future.

The amendment is meant to combat the stark increase in stabbing incidents in public places, especially dance clubs and recreation facilities.

According to the amendment, police will be permitted to search the body of any person, even without clear evidence of weapon possession. Searches will be carried out in specific places such as medical and educational facilities, restaurants, cafes and bars, clubs, game halls and arcades, as well as sports and culture venues.

In addition to these locations, police district chiefs will be authorized to declare any public space as an area in which body searches can be conducted.

Currently, the law permits body searches without warrants in the following cases: at the entrance to a port, building or any fenced venue, bus and train stations, transportation stops for soldiers and inside or in the vicinity of a public vehicle.

Moreover, a body search is currently allowed if there is reason to believe a person is unlawfully carrying a weapon or is about to make illegal use of a weapon.

The Public Defense office commented on the Justice Ministry's plan, claiming that it might jeopardize the right to privacy.

"This is a basic right, and its existence represents basic values of human freedom and dignity. Therefore it is extremely important in a democratic regime. Unfortunately, we have been witnessing steady erosion of the right to privacy in the guise of fighting crime and violence. In reality, police data shows there has been a decrease in violent crimes in recent years."