Israeli Blogger Faces Arrest for Urging Citizens to Create 'Chaos' Against Government

After Omri Hayun railed against Israel's economic situation last week on the social networking site, he found police knocking at his door.

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The Israel Police issued a warrant for the arrest of blogger Omri Hayun on Tuesday, Hayun said on his Facebook page, following another post he wrote on the social networking site on May 16 in which he criticized the Israeli government and called for citizens to take the law into their own hands and "create one big chaos here."

Hayun's initial post followed the publication of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report showing the poverty rate in Israel as the highest among developed nations.

“Is there anything sicker?" Hayun wrote on his Facebook page when he learned police were trying to contact him. "The Israel Police came a few minutes ago to my parents and demanded to arrest me. A few minutes later a detective called and asked me where I was."

Hayun told Haaretz that his mother, who lives in Rehovot, called him, frightened, and that a detective took the phone and demanded that Hayun go to his mother’s house immediately.

After Hayun explained that he lives in Tel Aviv and cannot get to Rehovot, the detective told him to contact him at the intelligence division of the Rehovot police. In the next conversation, Hayun said the intelligence officer told him he was wanted for questioning and that an arrest warrant had been issued against him.

“He told me ‘you want to hurt the prime minister and the Knesset. You incite and you have malicious intentions,’” Hayun said.

Hayun said his attorney subsequently spoke with the police, who told her that Hayun did not have to go to the police station, but that he should regard this as a warning not to post similar updates.

Officials in the Shfela Police District confirmed that Hayun had been warned by officers of the Rehovot police station that a statement he had posted on Facebook constituted incitement. Hayun ultimately was not arrested or asked to come to the station, the officials said.

In February it was revealed that police had conducted close surveillance of Facebook pages of protest leaders. The police presented screen grabs from the Facebook page of social activist Daphni Leef and other social justice protest leaders as part of their evidence-gathering against those arrested during demonstrations.

Last month, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court recommended that the police drop charges against Leef and make do with a warning. The court criticized the indictments, as it has done in the past.

Blogger Omri Hayun with his mother.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

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