Israeli police attempt to block Hadash convention, claim progressive group ‘endangers public’
A poster for the upcoming Hadash convention: 'We will continue raising our voice against the war and against fascism—courageously and responsibly.'

TEL AVIV—The Israeli government is not letting up in its effort to silence voices calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Having already blocked numerous demonstrations and suspended dissent parliamentarians, it now aims to disrupt the general political work of organizations struggling for peace.

Police are now trying to prevent the national convention of the Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) coalition scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 16, claiming that it would feature “inciting speeches that would endanger the public’s well-being.”

Hadash is the left progressive political coalition in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. The Communist Party of Israel plays a leading role in the group.

Police have threatened the owner of a facility in the city of Shefa-Amr (Shfar’am) in northern Israel where the convention was to be held. Hadash Secretary General Amjad Shbita said the agenda for the meeting includes planning “for political action against the continuation of the war in Gaza and against political persecution by the far-right government.”

On Wednesday, an urgent common meeting of Hadash and Communist Party of Israel (CPI) political bureaus was held considering the police intimidation directed against the planned Hadash convention by far-right Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

“We learned that threats were made against the owner of the venue in which the congress was to be held, warning that if the event is hosted, the venue will be closed for a month,” Shbita said.

Hadash and CPI jointly denounced “the fascist intimidation acts by the Israeli establishment.” The two organizations said they will continue “raising our voice against the war and against fascism—courageously and responsibly.”

They continued:

“We will carry out the congress on the scheduled date. A decision about the location will be reached later. We call on all our activists to take part in our struggle against this persecution of our party and front for its political role. We call on all our cadres, all the Jewish and Arab progressive forces, and the international anti-fascist forces, to protest this McCarthyite persecution, targeting all voices that stand out against this criminal war and against the descent of Israel into fascism. This process began before the war, but the government saw its eruption as an occasion to accelerate the attacks on the already diminished democratic space.”

On Nov. 16, the police agreed to allow a Hadash demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza to take place in Tel Aviv after the Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) in Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding it order the police to issue a permit for the rally.

The Tel Aviv Police Department initially refused to authorize the protest, organized by Hadash, on the grounds it could lead “to civil disturbances, may harm the feelings of evacuees from southern Israel currently residing in Tel Aviv, and that the police lacked the manpower to secure the rally.”

During the court hearing, the police agreed to allow the demonstration to go ahead but at a different location than originally planned and with a limit on the number of participants.

Police raided the Hadash and CPI branch office in Nazareth on Nov. 10, tearing down political posters and spray-painting over murals.

“The Ben-Gvir police continues its political persecution and attempts to intimidate and silence the Arab public and other forces opposing the war. We will not put up with these provocations. We will continue to lead the joint Arab-Jewish struggle against fascism, war, and persecution,” Hadash declared in a statement.

On Nov. 9, a leading CPI member and former Hadash lawmaker Mohammad Barakeh was detained after he announced a protest against the war in Gaza. He is chair of the umbrella organization for the Arab-Palestinian community in Israel, the High Follow-up Committee.

This article, originally published by Zo Haderekh, has been edited for greater clarity.

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Zo HaDerekh
Zo HaDerekh

Zo HaDerekh (This Is The Way) is the Communist Party of Israel's Hebrew-language newspaper.