High Court allows protesters to return to square outside AG's home
Up to 500 protesters will be able to attend demonstration at Petah Tikva's Goren Square against AG's slow conduct in PM investigations under temporary injunction issued by the court until it decides on petition against police decision to bar the protesters from the square due to noise complaints from neighbors.
The court order allows up to 500 protesters to continue demonstrating at Goren Square in Petah Tikva without needing special police authorization until a decision is made on a petition by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which appeals police decision to bar them from the square.
"The neighbors' right for quiet doesn't come close to the right for the freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate," Judge Yoram Danziger said during Thursday's hearing, noting that on a grander scheme, the right for quiet is lower on the scale than the freedom of expression.
A resident of the Kfar Ganim neighborhood in Petah Tikva recently filed a petition to the High Court against the police over the noise caused by the thousands of people who arrive to Goren Square in the neighborhood every Saturday night to protest.
In response to the petition, the police informed protest organizers they would no longer allow demonstrations to be held without a permit, and then refused to give a permit for more than 50 people to demonstrate at Goren Square.
Protestors tried arriving at the square despite police blockages and closures, later congregating in the alterative location the police had approved. Two of the protesters' organizers, attorney Eldad Yaniv and former PMO chief caretaker Meni Naftali, were detained for questioning on the night of the protest.
The two were then arrested this weekend for calling on demonstrators to arrive at Goren Square despite police decision not to allow it. Yaniv and Naftali were released from police custody on Sunday after reaching an agreement with the police: The two agreed not call on demonstrators to attend an illegal protest until the following Sunday, and in return they were released without bail or restrictions.
Responding to the petition in court, the police said the initial demonstrations were attended by about 50 people, with about 12 policemen sent to the square to keep the peace, while the last demonstration—the 38th—was attended by about 2,500 people, with about 130 policemen needed to keep the peace.
Demonstrators were also faced with a counter-protest of some 400-300 Likud supporters, who did have a permit from police.
The police suggested Petah Tikva's park as an alternative place for the protest and counter-protest. "The park can accommodate thousands of people, it is not located in the heart of a residential neighborhood, and there is a parking lot next to it with many parking spaces," the police said.
The High Court decided to strike the resident's petition because the police accepted his claims.