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Increase in Israel attempts to confiscate Palestinian flags during protests

February 25, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Palestinians during the Great March of Return on 2 February 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

In occupied East Jerusalem, activists are reporting an uptick in efforts by Israeli police to confiscate Palestinian flags during demonstrations, reported +972 Magazine.

The latest example came earlier this month, according to the article, during a protest against the eviction of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah.

“A video published by Israeli activist Guy Butavia shows group of Israeli police officers walking into a crowd of Palestinian and left-wing Israeli activists…many of whom are holding small Palestinian stick flags,” the report stated. “The officers proceed to confiscate the flags, one by one.”

As noted by +972 Magazine, “prior to the Oslo Accords, Israel considered flying the Palestinian flag — still referred to in Israel as the flag of the Palestine Liberation Organisation — a criminal offense.”

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“The PLO still technically appears on Israel’s list of terrorist organisations, giving Israeli security forces leeway when deciding whether or not to confiscate — and even arrest those flying — Palestinian flags,” the report added.

According to official Israeli police data, officers “arrested 96 Israeli citizens on suspicion of waving the Palestinian flag between 2011 and 2015, with indictments filed in 45 of these cases.”

A police spokesperson said that officers have the discretion to confiscate flags “when there is a high level of probability that flying them will result in the violation of public safety, or in any case where there is suspicion of an offense under Section 4 of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance.”