Activists affiliated with incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party were today caught wearing body cameras to spy on Arab-Israeli voters at polling stations.
Reports emerged earlier today stating that the Likud party had provided right-wing activists with 1,200 body cameras to monitor polling stations in Palestinians towns.
Israel’s public service broadcaster Kan tweeted a photo of these body cameras, saying:
“A member of the elections committee in Tamra [north of Haifa] said on Facebook that a secret camera was found in the possession of another member of the committee on behalf of the Likud. A complaint was submitted to the Central Elections Committee.”
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) April 9, 2019
The chairman of Israel’s Central Elections Committee, Judge Hanan Melcer, has since filed a complaint to the Israel Police, which has confiscated dozens of these cameras.
The committee’s legal counsel said that polling officials could not film voters arriving at the polling stations nor during the voting process. Netanyahu meanwhile said there should be cameras everywhere in order to ensure a “kosher” voting process.
The revelation has been met with anger by Arab-Israelis. The predominantly Arab Hadash-Ta’al alliance, which is headed by veteran Knesset Member (MK) Ayman Odeh, slammed the revelation, writing on Twitter:
“We have now filed an urgent complaint with the Elections Committee demanding that the illegal attempts by Likud activists to install recording devices and hidden cameras at polling stations in Arab communities be stopped. Netanyahu does not want the Arab public to vote, but we will rush to the polls and topple the government.”
הגשנו עכשיו תלונה דחופה לוועדת הבחירות בדרישה לעצור את הניסיונות הלא-חוקיים של פעילי הליכוד להטמין מכשירי הקלטה ומצלמות נסתרות בקלפיות ביישובים הערביים. נתניהו לא רוצה שהציבור הערבי יצביע, אבל אנחנו ננהר לקלפיות ונפיל את הממשלה. pic.twitter.com/tZhZeGzVJf
— תנועת חד''ש (@Hadash_org) April 9, 2019
Turnout among Arab-Israeli voters has been extremely low today, with many pointing to the camera affair as a contributing factor in this phenomenon. Research conducted prior to the election showed that only half of Palestinian citizens of Israel intended to vote, citing disillusionment with the Israeli political system. Others have chosen to boycott the election, which means that the two Arab-Israeli alliances – Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad – could struggle to improve on the current 13 seats they currently hold in the Knesset under the now-defunct Joint List.