Israel’s internal security service going after leftwing protesters

Posted: December 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

Another activist received an invitation to a meeting with Shabak. After refusing, he was warned that it would be in his best interest to come

Yesterday, I reported here on two members of the leftwing group Anarchists against the Wall that were invited to a meetings with a Shabak (Israel’s internal security agency) operator calling herself “Rona”. Apparently, this was the same person who conducted a political interrogation of former IDF pilot Yonatan Shapira a few months ago.

Today (Tuesday), a third activist received a phone call from “Rona”, asking him to report to a meeting with her. The activist refused, demanding to be issued a formal subpoena. According to his report, “Rona” replied that she is aware of his actions, and that it would be in his best interest to come to the meeting. She ended the conversation by informing the activist that she would call him again next week.

The activist noted that the conversation was friendly.

According to the reports of Yonatan Shapira and another activist who attended a meeting with “Rona” last week, it seems that the purpose of these conversations is to send a warning message to leftwing protestors.

The Shabak has declared in the past before the Supreme Court that it follows the activities of foreign pro-Palestinian activists [Hebrew link]. The head of the organization also admitted that it is conducting surveillance activities on organizations that are seeking “to change the Jewish nature of the state” [Hebrew] even when those organizations are not suspected of doing any illegal activities.

The recent warning calls might mark another escalation in the Shabak’s supervision of political activity in Israel.

Two more leftwing activists summoned to a meeting with Israel’s General Security Service

Posted: December 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

One activist warned that his actions are known to the GSS; other chose to decline the invitation

Two Israeli activists that take part in protests in the West Bank have been summoned to informal investigations by Israel’s General Security Service, the Shabak (formally Shin Beit). According to the two, they received phone calls inviting them for what was described as “a talk” with a GSS investigator named Rona.

A few months ago, Yonatan Shapira, a former IDF pilot, was summoned for such a meeting in Tel Aviv with a female investigator calling herself Rona. According to an account Shapira published, the “talk” turned out to be a political interrogation, in which Shapira was asked about his participation in demonstrations in the West Bank and other activities, but was not accused of any illegal actions.

Last week, an activist in Anarchists against the Wall, a leftwing group whose members take part in unarmed demonstrations in the West Bank, was invited to a similar meeting in a police station on Dizengof Street, Tel Aviv. According to his account, he was told by “Rona” that his actions are known and are not considered illegal by the GSS. However, he was warned that “if they do turn illegal, we [the GSS] will be there.”

Today, another Anarchists against the Wall activist received a phone call from “Rona” inviting him to talk to her. The activist asked if this would be a formal interrogation, and if so, said he would like to be summoned by an official subpoena, in writing. According to the activist, “Rona” answered that this was not the case, and the conversation ended.

Internal Security violated agreement with Haaretz to get to Anat Kamm

Posted: July 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Anat Kamm in court (photo: Oren Ziv/activestills)

The prosecution in Anat Kamm’s trail admitted today that the Shabak (Israel’s internal security service, formally known as Shin Beit), ignored the agreement it signed with Haaretz reporter Uri Blau in order to expose the source for a story he published.

In a research article published two years ago in Haaretz, Blau reveled that senior Israeli generals, including chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, knowingly violated Supreme Court rulings by ordering the assassination of Palestinians militants even when they didn’t pose an immediate threat or when it was possible to capture them alive.

After the story was published, the army began an internal investigation to locate the source responsible for leaking the operative orders cited by Blau in Haaretz. At the same time, the Shabak demanded Haaretz to return the documents in order to avoid a national security breach. Haaretz and Blau agreed, on the condition that the documents will be used only for damage control, and not to locate the source for the story.

According to a reports on Israeli media (Hebrew) the state admitted today that the Shabak did use the documents to get to Kamm.

Kamm, then a soldier at the central command HQ and later a reporter for the Israeli portal, was arrested, and Israeli media was prevented from reporting the story. Only after details of her arrest were published abroad, the gag order was lifted.

Kamm is charged with espionage, and could face up to 20 years in prison. Uri Blau is in London, fearing that his return would lead to his arrest and prosecution.

Israeli BDS activist’s account of “a friendly talk” with the Shin Beit

Posted: July 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Former Israeli air force pilot and conscientious objector Yonatan Shapira was summoned today to “a friendly talk” with the Shabak (formally known as “Shin Beit”, Israel’s internal security agency). This is Yonatan’s account of the event, as posted on Facebook:

Yesterday Rona from the Shabak called me and asked me to come talk to meet her in the police station on Dizengof st. (Tel Aviv). She refused to tell me what was it about, but made it clear I wasn’t going to be arrested, and that this is just an acquaintance or “a friendly talk”…

At five o’clock I got to the Dizengof police station and was sent to the second floor of the rear building, where a guy who presented himself as Rona’s security guard waited for me. I was taken to a room and subjected to a pretty intimate search to make sure I didn’t install any recording device on my testicles. After I was found clean I was let into Rona’s room. She was a nice looking girl, apparently from a Yemeni origin, in her early thirties.

Rona told me that I she knew I was active in the BDS (movement) and (calling for) an economical boycott of Israel, and she wanted to know what else do I do as part of these activities. I told her that everything (that I do) is well known and published in the internet and the media, and that I have nothing to add, and that I wasn’t going to talk to her.

Rona emphasized that there is a Knesset bill that might soon make my activities illegal. She went on and tried to get me into a political debate, asking if I know that the BDS is in fact a Palestinian organization.

Rona raised the issue of the graffiti in Warsaw and asked it was my own idea or another part of the BDS. She asked if I understood that I crossed a line and hurt many people’s feeling. Obviously the Shabak feeling’s (were hurt) as well… I offered her again to listen to interviews and read article on the issue. She said she did listen and read, but she wanted to know more. I told her I would be happy to give a public lecture to anyone who wants to hear, but not (talk about it) in a Shabak interrogation.

Apart from the BDS issue she asked me if I knew that the demonstrations in Bil’in and Ni’ilin are illegal, and that the entire area is closed for Israelis and internationals each Friday from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm. She went into length explaining how the soldiers feel in these demonstrations and that it irritates them when I talk to them and when I answer them.

Rona said she was there herself and that stones were thrown at her, and that it war really unpleasant. She said that the fact that Israelis are present there makes the Palestinians more violent, and that I have to think how the poor soldiers feel, and that all she is trying to do is for the good of the country and out of her will to defend the people living here.

I answered that all I do is out of a will to defend the people living here as well, and I asked where did she get all the information on my activities and whether they are listening to my phone. She said that she can’t answer this, but that generally speaking the Shabak has more important things to do, so I asked her whet I was doing here and why was I invited to a kind political interrogation if they have more important things to do.

I asked again if they are listening to my phone calls and Rona said she can’t answer that.

She asked me not to publish the content of our conversation because she wasn’t the type who wants publicity… I answered that as a person committed to a non-violent struggle against the occupation I would talk and publish anything I can, including the content of this conversation and future ones, if these will be such.

I documented the entire conversation on a piece of paper until Rona started discussing this paper and what I was writing down. Eventually she confiscated the dangerous piece of paper, claiming that I was not allowed to have any recording device in, and that what I was doing was illegal.

Luckily I remembered most of the conversation and Rona hasn’t confiscated my memory yet. Maybe (it will happen) in our next meeting.

That’s it. There might have been more details but from what I get these were the main issues. I understood that what they were after was our involvement in the BDS, and that they might even be preparing files for the moment the new law is passed.


I find this account of the conversation very reliable, and similar to other accounts of political interrogations of Jewish activists I heard of. We should remember that political interrogations of Palestinians are not that friendly or polite.

I also think that Yonatan could be right in assuming the police or the Shabak is putting together files on Israelis involved in the BDS. One of the many anti-democratic aspects of the new Knesset bill [Hebrew document] is that it will be possible to enforce it on past actions as well.

Personally I found Yonatan’s graffiti in Warsaw to be of poor taste, but this is none of the Shabak’s business.

Gag order partly lifted: Makhoul and Said suspected of espionage, contact with Hezbollah agent

Posted: May 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Petah Tikva district court had partly lifted the gag order on the arrest of two Arab activists, Ameer Makhoul from Haifa and Omar Said of Kfar Kanna. The two are suspected in espionage, contact with Hezbollah agent

Yedioth Ahronoth’s site, which filed the appeal to lift the gag order, reports:

Fifty-two-year-old Ameer Makhoul from Haifa, a well-known figure in the Arab community in Israel, and 50-year-old Omar Said of Kfar Kanna, were arrested on suspicion of committing serious security offences, including espionage and contact with a foreign agent from Hezbollah. A gag order on the matter was partially lifted at Ynet’s request on Monday, meaning some of the affair’s details are still confidential.

Makhoul was arrested in his home in Haifa last week in front of his wife and children. He is suspected of being in contact with a Lebanese element of the Hezbollah terror group, espionage and contact with a foreign agent. Several computers were confiscated from his home.

Said was arrested in April. The affair is under investigation by the Shin Bet and the Israel Police’s international crimes investigation unit. The probe is being carried out with the attorney general and state prosecutor’s knowledge.

Note that the actual offenses were not revealed, and only the charges were made public. Without knowing much on the affair, I estimated here yesterday that the charge against the two will be “contact with a foreign agent”, since it is the textbook offense used to criminalize public figures in Israel. This specific law has such a broad definition, that you can basically charge anyone who ever met an Iranian or a Libyan government official or a proxy to someone in the political arm of the Hizbollah with this offense, and throw in espionage while you are at it.

Such charges make very good headlines in the tabloids, but in most cases, the offenses turn out to be extremely trivial, sometimes absurd. As long as we don’t know what is it exactly that Makhoul and Said supposedly did, it’s hard to rule whether the arrest was justified, or is it another chapter in the persecution of political activists in Israel.

Arab human rights groups to protest against Makhoul’s arrest, gag order

Posted: May 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Haaretz reports today that several Arab human rights group are planning a large rally in Haifa today to protest the arrest of activist Ameer Makhoul. A gag order is preventing Israeli media from reporting the arrest itself.

Makhoul, director of the Israeli Palestinian human rights NGO Ittijah, was arrested in his Haifa home at 3.00 am last Thursday. The family’s computers, cell phones and several documents were confiscated. The charges against him were not made public.

Arab MK’s are also planning to raise Makhoul’s issue in the Knesset, and if necessary, to appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court so it would lift the gag order and allow Makhoul to defend himself against the Shin Beit charges.


In a different issue, today begins the trial of eight activists who took part in the protest in Sheikh Jarrah, the Jerusalem neighborhood being colonized by extreme rightwing settlers (with the support of Jerusalem’s mayor). The court has ruled in the past that most of the actions carried out by the Jerusalem police against the protesters were illegal, yet the effort to prosecute and deter the demonstrators continues.

Read more on Sheikh Jarrah here.

Shin Beit continues to make citizens disappear: activist Ameer Makhoul arrested; Israeli media not allowed to report

Posted: May 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Ameer Makhoul, director of the Israeli Palestinian human rights NGO, Ittijah, was arrested last week by Israeli police. The arrest happened Thursday, on 3 AM. According to his wife, Jnan, 16 policemen took part in the raid. They confiscated all the computers in the house, as well as documents, cell phones other personal material. The following morning the police also raided the offices of Ittijah and confiscated computers.

A gag order has been issued on the affair. Makhoul is an Israeli citizen; he lives with his family in Haifa.

The arrest has been reported by Richard Silberstein and JTA. Hebrew bloggers Idan Landau, Rehavia Berman and Yossi Gurevitz also wrote about it.

A day before his arrest, Makhoul announced his support for boycotting Israeli products from the settlements. Yet according to his wife, the warrant for his arrest was signed on April 23ed, so the reason for the arrest remains unclear. Since the charges against Makhoul are not made public, it is impossible to know whether it is another example to how Israel is beginning to persecute and arrest people for their views and for none-violate actions, or is it indeed a real case of national security. I guess that the gag order was an attempt to avoid exactly those kinds of questions.

Read the rest of this entry »

They are deporting clowns now

Posted: May 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , | 6 Comments »


It seems that Israel’s security services have lost their mind in their hunt for subversive elements:

Ivan Prado, the most famous clown in Spain, did not expect to be put on a return flight back to Madrid soon after arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport late last month, after spending six hours with officials from the Shin Bet security service and the Interior Ministry. The officials accused Prado of having ties to Palestinian terror organizations.


Prado, director of the International Clown Festival in Galicia, arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on April 26 with a Spanish national of Arab origin. They planned to go to Ramallah to help organize a similar festival, but at passport control Prado was taken aside by a Shin Bet officer who asked him about his planned visit to the West Bank and about his connections to various Palestinian organizations. He and his female companion were held for six hours, during which they were questioned repeatedly, and their passports were confiscated.

They were sent back to Spain after an Interior Ministry official informed them that they would not be permitted into Israel.

Read the full story in Haaretz.

Beside the grave PR mistake by the Israeli Authorities, the important issue here is that in today’s Israel, being a friend of the Palestinians, traveling with an Arab or expressing critical views on Zionism is enough to get you in trouble. And if the only argument this government’s supporters can come up with is “in Iran and Gaza things are much worse”, it tells you a lot about the point we’ve reached.

Knesset moves to outlaw human rights organizations in Israel

Posted: April 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, media, The Left | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Something very troubling is happening to “the only democracy in the Middle East”

More than 20 MKs, including members of opposition party Kadima, proposed a new bill which will make it possible to outlaw the important human rights groups in Israel. Among the organizations mentioned in the proposed bill are Doctors for Human rights, The Coalition of Woman for Peace, The Public Committee against Torture in Israel, and Adalah: the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights. All these organizations receive funds from the New Israeli fund.

According to a report in Maariv, the new bill will outlaw any organization “which is involved in activity intended to lead to the prosecution or arrest of IDF officers and government officials for war crimes.”  the word “involved” makes it a very broad definition.

Two weeks ago, an article by Maariv’s Ben Caspit suggested that NIF sponsored organizations that are linked to an international effort to investigate and prosecute senior IDF officers for war crimes.

The introduction to the new bill declares that:

“… “Those organizations help foreign organizations that seek to issue arrest warrants and indictments against senior Israeli officials, either by means of providing information—the preponderance of which is erroneous and even mendacious—to foreign groups, or by publicly agreeing and lending credence to the accusation that Israel is guilty of war crimes.”

More than 20 MK’s signed the offer. Among them are known parliament members from Tzipi Livni’s opposition party Kadima, former head of Shin Beit Avi Dichter and members from Likud and NRP.


From all the anti-democratic measures I’ve been writing about here, this is by far the most extreme. Even if a mild version of this law passes, defending human rights in Israel – a difficult task as is – will become practically impossible. Merely proposing this bill will harm grassroots efforts and freedom of speech, as both the media and the public are becoming more and more hostile to people and groups who are portrayed as unpatriotic or anti-Israeli.

Much of “the case for Israel” is based on the notion that this is a democracy – the only one in a hostile environment. But Israel is changing. This is not something that you see on a one week vacation in Jerusalem or from the Tel Aviv beach, but if you pay close attention to the news, you can easily notice it.

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Jewish Terrorism is here again. Anyone still surprised?

Posted: November 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Right, The Settlements | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments »

Today at six PM the court order the police requested was lifted, and the Israeli media could finally publish the story everybody knew of for weeks: Another Jewish terrorist was arrested.

Yaakov Taitel, an immigrant from the US, is suspected of killing two Palestinians, placing the bomb that wounded professor Ze’ev Sternhell and rigging the package bomb which left the child of a Messianic Jew seriously wounded. Taitel also admitted to the murder at the Gay youth home in Tel Aviv, but there is no evidence linking him to this crime.

This is the second Jewish terrorist to come out of Rahel Shvut settlements. In 2005 Asher Weisgen, a bus driver, shot and killed four Palestinians near Shiloh in the West Bank. Even so, when you listen to the settlers in the Israeli media this evening, all of what they talk about is “the incitement against the Right”. None of them seems ready to ask some tough question on racist anti-Arab discourse they were promoting, or about the de-legitimization of the left.

What’s funny is that the settlers were pushing their message even before the Taitel’s arrest was made public. As Ido Kenan reveled in his blog, a Right wing PR group named “Mattot Arim” (מטות ערים) distributed a talking points e-mail, in which speakers for the Right were instructed to counterattack by the Left immediately. One of the points reads:

“Assaf Goldring who recently murdered his 3 years old daughter was a left wing activist and a Kibutz member. No right-wing journalist used this to hint that all leftists or Kibutz members are the same as Goldring. It is both unprofessional and rude when leftwing journalists dare to smear the right, the religious or the settlers when something [of this sort] happens.”

Jesus, is this is the best they could come out with? A domestic violence case of some Kibutz member? Obviously, this is the perfect example to the sixty-years-old fact that while hate talk goes in all directions in Israel, bullets fly only from right to left. Read the rest of this entry »