Police Making Unreasonable Demands of Anti-occupation March in Jerusalem, Organizers Say

No megaphones or marching in the streets: Left-wing groups, who planned march to mark 50 years of occupation, say police have set impossible conditions for permit.

FILE PHOTO: A Palestinian woman holds a sign near Israeli forces during a protest against Jewish settlements in the West Bank city of Hebron March 26, 2017.
MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA/REUTERS

Organizers of a peace march planned for Saturday night in the center of Jerusalem said the Israel Police is making unreasonable demands for the approval of the march. The organizers said they expect some 2,500 people to attend the march.

Over the past few days, the police informed the organizers that they must meet a number of conditions in order to receive a permit, which the organizers claim are impossible to meet. These include a requirement that the marchers keep to the sidewalks without walking on the streets or disrupting traffic.

The march is being organized by Standing Together, in cooperation with left-wing parties and organizations including Peace Now, Meretz, Breaking the Silence, Combatants for Peace and others. The march is supposed to be the first in a series of events marking the 50th anniversary of the occupation.

In a letter sent to the commander of the Jerusalem District police, Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevy, by Sharona Eliyahu Chai, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, she called the situation discrimination because for other events, such as the “Flag March” by religious Zionists on Jerusalem Day and the Gay Pride Parade, streets were closed off.

 Women Wage Peace demonstrating in the Knesset Rose Garden in Jerusalem, March 4, 2015.
Courtesy Women Wage Peace

>> Meet the Jewish voice at the heart of the boycott Israel movement <<

It is impossible for so many people to march on just the sidewalk, which makes it possible for the police to falsely claim the organizers are violating their permit, said Eliyahu Chai.

The police also refused to allow the use of megaphones during the march or holding a rally at the plaza by the Jaffa Gate, where the march was planned to end, she added. “The job of the Israel Police is to protect the right to demonstrate and allow those interested in doing so to carry it out.”

“The police may be making things difficult, but our hope is impossible to stop," said Suf Patishi, a member of the leadership of Standing Together, who filed the request for the permit for the demonstration with the police. "Jerusalem is a city that so many forces are dragging it down, starting with the mayor and ending with the members of [the right-wing organization] Lehava, but a voice of peace and hope can actually go out from it.”

The police did not comment for this report.