TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an)– Israeli activists who participate in protests against their country’s separation barrier came under state attack on Wednesday, with special forces entering homes in Tel Aviv.
Israeli special police forces showed up outside one home in central Tel Aviv, shared by a number of left-wing activists. After spending some time outside the residence, forces attempted to enter and conduct a search. Activists said that they were not shown a search permit and refused to submit to the search.
At 11 a.m., three policemen knocked on the door of a second home, the residence of an activist who had been detained at a protest against Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2009. The police “turned the house upside down,” a witness reported, confiscating computers, pictures, clothing, and other items from the premises.
A source with knowledge of the raids who preferred to remain unidentified said police forces intend to search at least eight more homes throughout the day.
The move comes amidst a general crackdown on left-wing activities. In recent weeks, the Shabak, Israel’s internal security service, has been calling protestors asking them to come in for “friendly chats.” All those who have reported receiving the calls have refused, since by law they are not required to comply with the requests unless they receive an official summons from the police.
Last week, a Tel Aviv court sentenced the prominent left-wing activist Johnathan Pollak to three months in jail for his role in a small, non-violent protest held in Tel Aviv against the Israeli siege on Gaza. Pollak was the only protester who was arrested for the demonstration, which was held in 2008, leading many observers to believe that Pollak is being singled out and punished for his continuing activism, and role as the spokesman for the West Bank’s Popular Organizing Committee, which issues news and testimony from the village of Bil’in.
Earlier in December 2010, Matan Cohen, an Israeli who is active in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and is studying in the United States, was detained for several hours in Ben Gurion International Airport upon return to Israel. His luggage was searched and officials told him he was suspected of being involved in “hostile terrorist activities.”
Cohen reported that while he has been questioned briefly upon leaving the country he has never been detained upon arrival.
“This is definitely a step up in the level of political repression against anti-apartheid activists in general, and BDS activists in particular,” Cohen remarked.