Israeli Police Investigate Alleged Flag Desecration in Protest Against Gaza Violence

Protesters were demonstrating against the Israeli army’s shooting of demonstrators at the Gaza border fence in recent weeks

Protests break out in Haifa over Israeli activities in the Gaza Strip on June 3, 2018
Abdullah Shama

The police on Sunday launched an investigation into an incident during a Haifa demonstration in which protestors were seen throwing an Israeli flag to the ground and trampling on it.

In a video from the Friday demonstration against the Israeli army’s actions at the Gaza border fence, a protester wearing a kaffiyeh is seen grabbing an Israeli flag being carried by another demonstrator and throwing it to the ground. Another demonstrator then tramples on the flag to the cheers of his comrades.

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In June 2016, the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee raised the fine for desecrating the flag to 58,400 shekels ($16,380) from the 300 lirot (the old Israeli currency) that the law previously stipulated. Under the amended law, the maximum sentence for desecrating the flag is three years’ imprisonment.

Police investigate suspicions of flag desecration in Haifa demonstrationNewzim.co.il

Contempt for the flag has made headlines a number of times in recent years. In December 2016, the Supreme Court rejected Elhanan Esterovich’s request to appeal his conviction that came in part for burning the flag on Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court had convicted him for acts including trespassing, vandalism (spraying graffiti at Yad Vashem), flag-burning and vandalizing monuments. He was sentenced to six months of community service, and the Jerusalem District Court rejected his appeal.

In September 2016, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court convicted Ramle man Adel Amisis of desecrating the flag after rejecting his claim that he was not involved in a 2014 incident in which two Israeli flags were spray-painted red in Jaffa, two days before Memorial Day and Independence Day. Another argument, that the act should be considered a political protest, was also rejected.

“In the modern world, the flag of the nation serves as the most outstanding symbol of the honor and unity of the nation,” wrote the judge, Shaul Avinor. ”Undermining the honor of the flag is a clear offense to the public’s feelings.”

In November 2014, police arrested Natalie Cohen Vaxberg, an activist who posted a video in which she appeared to be defecating on the Israeli flag while the national anthem played in the background.

In March 2016, performer and playwright Ariel Bronz was arrested when, at the Israel Culture Conference sponsored by Haaretz, he fixed an Israeli flag between his buttocks.