A senior army officer has barred a right-wing activist from the West Bank in part because he planned to attend a demonstration in front of the officer’s house.
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The order issued by the head of Central Command, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, accuses Tzuriel Hacohen of being part of a group planning violent revolt against the government.
The army has issued similar orders against some 40 other far-right extremists since the arson attack that killed three members of a Palestinian family last July. But in this case, one of the justifications given was highly unusual.
Hacohen, 21, is a resident of the unauthorized settlement outpost of Baladim, which is considered a hotbed of far-right extremism. Last month, as the six-month order was approaching its expiration date, his attorney, Menashe Yado, asked Numa for a hearing at which he could argue against its renewal.
Numa’s office responded by sending Yado a summary of the classified material that it said justified the order, which also bars Hacohen from speaking with 27 individuals.
The summary included several typically vague statements, such as “Hacohen is known as a dominant activist in outposts populated by far-right activists, some of whom are known to the security services because of their involvement in attacks.”
But it also cited two other facts. First, Hacohen had violated a previous order barring him from the West Bank. And second, “He continues to engage in the [seditious] organization’s activities, which include your client’s arrival in the city of Ramat Gan to hold a demonstration [against] the Central Command commander in order to protest his administrative enforcement in the Samaria region” – i.e., his issuance of administrative orders like the one against Hacohen.
As evidence, the document cited a police report which said that policemen had encountered Hacohen at the Aluf Hasadeh interchange, where he told them he had planned to attend a demonstration in front of Numa’s house in Ramat Gan, but since nobody else came, he left.
Far-right activists have held actual demonstrations near Numa’s house, most recently last Saturday night.
Yet even though one of the reasons cited for the order against Hacohen related to Numa personally, the officer apparently saw no need to recuse himself from the decision.
Yado said the fact that attending a demonstration was cited as justification for issuing the order shows that such orders are being used to prevent political activity rather than solely for security purposes.
“In this case, the general decided to deprive someone of his freedom because he sought to demonstrate against him,” Yado said. “Therefore, this is an incident with clear markers of totalitarianism.”
The IDF Spokesperson’s Office responded that the order was actually “based on a great deal of significant intelligence information attesting to [Hacohen’s] systematic, organized activity against security” in the West Bank, and was issued “in light of the danger represented by this activity.
Mr. HaCohen’s participation in the demonstration in Ramat Gan is just an example of the organization in which he is active, not the basis for the order against him.”