Israel’s Police Must Go Easy on the Arrests

Too many people are being arrested who never need to be indicted. Social-justice advocates, for example.

Haaretz Editorial
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Haaretz Editorial

In the High Court ruling striking down the law that lets asylum-seekers be jailed for three years without trial, Justice Edna Arbel notes that the right to liberty is fundamental to a democratic regime, and that any denial of this right must be done under clear and strict rules.

We should remember this statement in light of the Israel Police’s many arrests. According to prison service data and a report by the Public Defender’s Office, the arrest rate has risen 21 percent since 2005; last year, 62,000 people were arrested.

This steep rise came about in part due to the arrest of innocent people who were never indicted. There were also arrests for minor matters such as an argument on a bus, arrests of protesters in a way that stifled freedom of speech, and arrests that, even if they were necessary, could have ended a few hours later with the suspect’s release at the police station. Instead, the police brought the detainee to court the next day.

These many cases show the need for a fundamental change in the behavior of the police, who have not taken to heart the importance of the right to liberty and the obligation to ensure that a person not be arrested unless it is essential. The arrests of activists at demonstrations give rise to a suspicion that the tool of arrest is being used wrongly against activism.

As the national public defender, Yoav Sapir, noted, concerns are growing that the police are using arrests to deter and punish rather than for the limited objectives for which they were designed, such as danger to the public or the risk of obstruction of an investigation. Steps must be taken against law enforcement officials who empty basic civil liberty of meaning through false arrest.

In addition, the attorney general, and particularly the police commissioner, must stress to all levels of the police the importance of the right to liberty. They must be made to know that an arrest should be a last resort. It must be done with great caution.

Police detaining Daphni Leef at a demonstration on Rothschild Boulevard in June 2012.Credit: Alon Ron

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage

Flame and smoke rise during an Israeli air strike, amid Israel-Gaza fighting, in Gaza City August 6, 2022.

Israel Should End Gaza Operation Now, if It Can