Likud Hiding Cameras in Arab Polling Stations Will Be 'Looked Into,' Election Board Says

Central Elections Committee CEO says it would 'draw conclusions' from Election Day incident, which lawmakers claim may amount to voter intimidation

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Cameras confiscated by the Israel Police at polling stations in Israeli Arab communities, April 9, 2019.
Cameras confiscated by the Israel Police at polling stations in Israeli Arab communities, April 9, 2019.Credit: Hadash Spokesperson's Office
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

The chief executive of Israel's Central Elections Committee said on Sunday it would "look into" hidden cameras installed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party in polling stations in Arab communities in Israel on Election Day, and "draw conclusions" ahead of Israel's next general election.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 22

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Lawmakers, activists and human rights organizations argue that the 1,200 hidden cameras installed by Likud may amount to a violation of Israeli election law, which forbids any intimidation in the election. CEO Orly Adas told Israeli military radio that the committee's chairman, Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, ordered not to film in polling stations, unless unusual or violent incidents occur.

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The Kaizler-Inbar PR firm said it was behind the hidden camera campaign, alongside Likud officials, taking pride in "bringing voter participation down below 50 percent, the lowest in years" among Israel's Arabs. In a Facebook post, Kaizler-Inbar said it "prevented fraud."

Campaigner Sagi Kaizler is also responsible for a video published ahead of Israel's 2015 election, which portrays left-wing activists as "traitors" who deserve to be hanged. He formerly served as head of West Bank settler organization Semaria Residents' Committee.

Meretz lawmaker Michal Rozin and Hadash-Ta'al's Aida Touma-Sliman called on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to launch a probe into Likud's Election Day move, which Rozin claims may be in violation of the law. "The Likud attempted to deter voters in the Arab community from fulfilling their democratic right, in a way that amounts to intimidation," she said in a letter.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel also urged Mendelblit and Israel Police to launch a criminal investigation into the hidden cameras, which "harmed the basic principles of the election process ... which state that elections would be free and secret," attorney Sawsan Zaher said.

The Likud party spent hundreds of thousands of shekels to provide its observers in polling stations in Arab communities with hidden cameras. The police confiscated dozens of these cameras during Election Day on Tuesday, while Netanyahu said there should be cameras everywhere in order to ensure a "kosher" voting process.