Bennett Orders to Bar Some Left-wing Activists From West Bank

Defense minister's decision targets activists operating with the 'Anarchists Against the Wall' organization; one of them is a Haaretz employee who was arrested last week

Soldiers arresting an activist of "Anarchists Against the wall' organization, near Southern Mount Hebron 2007.
REUTERS

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered the Israeli army on Saturday to issue restraining orders that would bar Israeli left-wing activists from entering the West Bank. 

Bennett's decision targets specifically some 30 activists operating with the "Anarchists Against the Wall" organization, a direct action group whose members oppose the construction of the Israeli barrier along the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli West Bank separation barrier.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 56Haaretz

Among the members of the group sanctioned by Bennett is Haaretz employee Jonathan Pollak, who is currently under arrest for his participation in anti-occupation protests. 

According to a statement released by the defense minister, such warrants have so far only been issued against right-wing Jews who were suspected of carrying out hate crimes that had targeted Palestinians, but now they will also be "used against anarchist activists from the left." 

Administrative restraining orders are usually issued by the Israeli military, signed by the chief of an army command and are under judicial review. 

Bennett added in his statement that "forces on the field have been instructed to act firmly against this activity in order to disperse the protests and minimize the damage to Israeli soldiers." However, he did not detail what measures security forces will take. 

Left-wing activist Jonathan Pollak behind bars in a police vehicle, January 7, 2020.
Oren Ben Hakoon‎

According to Bennett, members of Anarchists Against the Wall act "usually in coordination with Palestinian activists and other radical left-wing organizations to carry out violent provocations in the Judea and Samaria [West Bank] area, in four main centers of activity: Bil'in, Naalin, Kadum and Nabi Salah."

He went on to claim that "the violent events are meant to rile up [people in the] area, defile property and hurt Israeli army soldiers, while causing serious damage to the image of the State of Israel in the world." 

Jonathan Pollak was arrested in his office at the Haaretz buiding last week, following a criminal complaint filed against him by the right-wing organization Ad Kan in 2018. Ad Kan -Young people for Israel had complained that Pollak attacked soldiers during demonstrations in Ni'lin, Nabi Saleh and Bil'in. 

Pollak did not attend the hearings on the issue, prompting the court to issue a subpoena last year. About seven months ago, Ad Kan took to social media to call on the public to give it any information about Pollak's whereabouts. Pollak claimed at the time that his home address and place of employment were posted online.

Pollak wrote in Haaretz after his arrest that his refusal to recognize the court’s legitimacy is based on two main grounds. First is that his "Palestinian comrades do not enjoy the luxury of being tried in the relatively comfortable conditions of the Israeli courts," and second is that "all Israeli courts, military or otherwise, lack any legitimacy to preside over matters of resisting Israeli colonial rule."