Israel condemned over crackdown on Palestinian flags

Israel condemned over crackdown on Palestinian flags

New Israeli restrictions on the display of Palestinian flags in public spaces have been condemned by human rights campaigners as an attempt to “legitimise racism and discrimination”.

The Israeli government directive, issued by Israel’s new minister of national security Itamar Ben-Gvir on Sunday, describes the Palestinian flag as a symbol of “terrorism” and instructs police to remove it from public places. 

Although Israeli law does not outlaw the display of Palestinian flags, police and security forces have the right to remove them if they deem them to be a threat to public order.

Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director, said: “This appalling attempt to erase the identity of the Palestinian people is the latest in a series of measures that the Israeli authorities have introduced to legitimise racism and discrimination against Palestinians.

“The farcical pretexts for this directive cannot mask the fact that the Israeli authorities are growing increasingly ruthless in their attempts to silence Palestinian voices and crush all opposition to their apartheid system.

“As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Israel has committed to guarantee the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly for everyone living under its control. Israel also has the obligation to prohibit incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence through advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred. This directive flies in the face of these obligations.”

Ms Morayef added: “For decades, the Palestinian flag has been a symbol of unity and resistance to Israel’s unlawful occupation, and is used around the world as an emblem of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“It is deeply ironic that Israeli authorities are trying to justify this move on grounds of incitement, when the directive itself pours fuel on racial hatred and sows division.

“It is one of many Israeli policies, enacted within the system of apartheid, designed to minimise the presence of Palestinians both physically and symbolically.”

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