Israeli Arab Party Says Hundreds of Its Activists Were Questioned by Police

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Balad MKs Haneen Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas.
Balad MKs Haneen Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas.Credit: Emil Salman

The Balad party said Tuesday that police had been questioning hundreds of its activists and supporters about a recent party fundraising campaign.

According to the statement, the party conducts periodic fundraising campaigns for social and community activities like workshops, tours and day camps, as well as to cover legal expenses of activists arrested at demonstrations, but that none of this violated the Party Funding Law.

The party also noted that while in past Balad activists and supporters had occasionally been questioned about political activity, this new investigation was unprecedented in its scope and methods. It said all those questioned were warned by police not to discuss the investigation.

Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka told Haaretz that the investigation is “a continuation of the political persecution of the party’s activists and members. The investigation is being conducted in a way that intimidates the activists.”

Senior Balad officials told Haaretz that from talks with some of those questioned, they understand that the investigation touches on the party’s fiscal conduct, but also goes into political activity. “There’s no doubt that there’s a well-oiled bureaucracy working against the party, and it joins the incitement campaign being led by the government in the Knesset against Arab MKs, and particularly against Balad,” one official said.

Some 60 people were questioned in Baka al-Garbiyeh, 25 in Tira, and dozens of others were questioned in the Negev. A senior Balad official added that in the Galilee and Wadi Ara areas, there were dozens questioned in each town.

The Israel Police said, “We do not confirm or deny the existence of investigations or actions ostensibly taken in the course of an investigation.”

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