Under the Guise of War: Israel Government Restricts Rights of Israelis
Israel-Hamas War Update #3
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It’s been a while since I updated via video, I needed to take my time.
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Nov. 7th, 2023, a month into the War, I’m Efrat Fenigson, bringing you an update from Israel. I’ll touch on several topics today: Oct. 7th impacts, the general atmosphere and mainstream narrative in Israel, my personal angle, and a list of seven government restrictions under the guise of war, which to me feel like a further decline into totalitarianism.
When the horrific inhumane massacre happened on Oct. 7th everyone was shocked. We the people could not have imagined an atrocity of this magnitude and cruelty. 1400 People were murdered and slaughtered, and 241 people including children and babies were taken hostage and are still under captivity, or declared missing.
Obviously this has sparked a bloody war. We can all witness its horrible results, social media and mainstream media are serving disturbing content at a dazzling pace.
More pieces of information are coming out every day, I listen to the testimonies and try to discern truth from coverups, and while it seems Israel’s defence forces indeed failed to answer this large-scale invasion of Hamas to Israel, I still don’t have a clear answer to why they failed and what exactly happened on Oct. 7th that this massacre could have possibly happen.
Hostages’ families are suffering. They’ve set up a special taskforce, and together with circles of volunteers, they’re doing brilliant work in raising awareness and trying to put pressure on the negotiations to save their loved ones. Demonstrations are taking place outside government offices and the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), demanding the return of the hostages.
I was asked to comment about the atmosphere in Israel, and about how Israelis react to this collective trauma: from what I observe, some people are asking questions and seeking answers, they don’t accept that Oct. 7th was a failure. Some don’t want to ask or know; out of that group, some criticise / vilify people who ask questions or raise hypotheses, and some ignore and echo the “we’ll deal with it after the war” narrative that the government is pushing. Most people I know have lost a loved one or are related to someone who was hurt during Oct. 7th. Moreover, a heavy PsyOp is being conducted, on both social and mainstream media, and most people are not immune to it, though some are more aware than others.
People’s emotional states are very diverse, and quite polarised: Alongside sadness, immense anger and high levels of anxiety, we see comradery and voluntarism; people are helping each other, donating supplies, food, clothing, emergency supplies, opening their homes and their hearts to the evacuees and survivors, and cooking for each other. This spirit traverses all ethnic, religious and political groups - and perhaps this is our lesson and hope.
The mainstream narrative is “the question of who’s responsible for this big failure will be with us for many years to come, but now we must focus on fighting. The failure of the defence forces on Oct. 7th was in understanding Hamas’ intentions, and in not noticing its unprecedented preparation”.
As a senior member of the General Staff told the newspaper Yediot Ahronot: "Let us go to war, everyone will take responsibility at the end of the war."
The Israeli prime minister refused to take any responsibility for the Oct. 7th disaster, and in a tweet last week he blamed Israel’s security agencies (IDF & Shin Bet) for failures. He then deleted it, and posted an apology the following day. None of the so-called “leaders” have resigned so far.
On a personal note - while I received immense support for raising truthful, honest, yet inconvenient questions, concerns and opinions about the Oct. 7th events, I also received backlash from people who would have preferred to dictate my thoughts and control my voice and its reach. The personal defamation attack, coupled with the restrictions on freedom of speech by Israeli authorities, which I'll elaborate on shortly, have inspired creativity and courage in shaping my communication. I said it before and I’ll say it again: I will not be silenced. I’m speaking out for those who can’t, those who are afraid, and those who need to feel safe, who need to know how to rearrange and regroup in light of this war. I feel a calling to continue to ask questions and seek the truth.
Let's examine the recent restrictions and laws that are being promoted since the onset of the war. These less publicised government actions could potentially pose a threat to the safety of Israelis, under the pretext of "enhancing security":
The FOIA law
10 days ago, the Israeli government asked to freeze the FOIA law due to the war, and extend the time period that gov institutions can respond to a FOIA from 4 to 7 months. Due to public pressure and many civilian objections, the new FOIA maximum response period was set at 5 instead of 4 months, giving the government an additional 1 month delay to respond to FOIAs. (References 1, 2)
Live fire against Israeli protesters
Also 10 days ago, the government started to advance regulation which was pushed by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir earlier this year, to allow police to use live fire against Israeli citizens who are blocking roads or entrances to towns during a “multi-front war”. I’ll say that again: police could open fire and shoot civilians’ legs if they block roads during war time.
Under this regulation, police would only need approval from a senior officer before opening fire. The Attorney General, which initially agreed to fast-track the legislation and bring it to vote, retracted her agreement a few days later, due to public pressure and objections from politicians. So the Overton window has been opened, and finally this is not happening right now. This draconian measure could be brought back in the future, as happened before. (References 1, 2, 3)
Freedom to protest
In another extreme move to limit freedom of assembly and protest, the police chief said last week that they “don’t allow any demonstrations and would act to disperse them” threatening to send [protesters] to Gaza in buses.” But a day later, in light of widespread public criticism, the police took it back and announced: "Following various publications, Israel police considers the right to protest as a cornerstone of a democratic state. During the war, protests of any kind will be allowed in accordance with the law and compliance with the police and Home Front Command conditions”.
We’ve seen something similar to this during Covid, the government tried to use its emergency powers under the enabling act to forbid people to protest, and they limited it at first to 100m from home, and then 1 km etc. Due to public resistance this was lifted and the freedom to protest was kept on the most part. (not without police violence, but that’s another story). My point here is that civilian resistance and non compliance works, we must not accept these draconian measures on our liberties, under any justification - war, virus, or end of the world climate change. (Reference 1)
Incitement & conspiracy theories
The Israeli police had set up a special task force to monitor speech online. This force, which was established in May 2023, has been operating on high speed since the war began: they’ve already imprisoned 103 suspects and 44 indictments have been filed in an expedited procedure against those who incite terrorism and express support for Hamas. Most of them were people who have shown support in Hamas terror actions or showed intention to harm others. The police taskforce is also working diligently to remove social media posts which are encouraging terror acts, about 1000 such posts have been removed already.
In my opinion, while any incitement to violence and support of a terrorist organisation are wrong, dangerous and should be handled, the slippery slope is allowing this special police taskforce to threaten citizens who raise different opinions, I’ll explain where I see this slope:
A week after the massacre, A police Sub-Commissioner released a deterrent note, referring to a number of Israelis who, since the beginning of the war, have been spreading “conspiracy theories” online hinting on an inside job, which he claims is “completely unfounded”. The sub-commissioner said those people are echoing Hamas or Iran conspiracy theories. “In cases where it is Israeli citizens who spread these fake theories, most of them are expected to soon find themselves in the police interrogation rooms. We will reach out to anyone who tries to harm the public's well being and safety by publishing such news or theories that the enemy is trying to echo in Israeli society.”
This can be transformed into an amendment to the law or a new law, if they should choose to take it one step further.
Remember, that such efficient handling of incitement, and such swift measures were NOT taken when people, including politicians and doctors incited against Israeli citizens during Covid. (References 1, 2, 3)
Agriculture aid & free speech
Israeli agriculture is in a dire situation; While Israeli farmers are suffering from shortage of employees, evacuation from fields in borders proximity, or having to close their agriculture businesses or farms, the Israeli ministry of agriculture has opened a “war room” to monitor online posts and media reports against the ministry, which is related to “food security” in order to “fight” those who express criticism. Rather than helping the farmers in need, the government is seeking further control over speech and protection of its reputation.
Two noteworthy developments:
1- The Israeli public has shown wholehearted support for our local agriculture and farming. It's evident that people recognize the critical role it plays in securing our future, with many individuals volunteering for tasks such as picking, sorting, working in the fields, transportation, and trading of goods.
2- Just yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture announced significant aid, both financial and logistical, for our farmers. It appears that the heightened public awareness, robust support for our farmers, and mounting pressure on the authorities have compelled the ministry to step up and actively contribute. This showcases the remarkable power of civilian sovereignty.
Fight against terrorism bill
This week the Knesset is expected to approve the “fight against terrorism” bill according to which the systematic and continuous consumption of Hamas and ISIS content will, under certain circumstances, constitute a criminal offence, punishable by one year in prison. Originally, this bill aimed to criminalise anyone who would passively consume this kind of content, even if they just consumed it and took no action - no incitement, no call to action nor support of Hamas. It is a "thoughts police bill" - for merely thinking something you can end up in jail.
The association for human rights in Israel explains: “Following the public criticism of the bill’s original version, changes were introduced that slightly moderate its damage: the law in its new version requires additional external circumstances for criminalization, indicating identification with ISIS or Hamas, and the passive consumption of the publications is not enough. However, in the shadow of the ambiguity that surrounds many of the elements of the offence, which are subject to the interpretation of the authorities, it is highly doubtful whether this addition will reduce the harm inherent in the law and prevent the entanglement of innocent citizens suspected of terrorist offences.
Despite the change, it is still a law that is unprecedented in democratic countries, and will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. There is a gap between the extreme cases that bother the Shin Bet, and which the law is intended to prevent, and the language of the law, which could lead to hurting innocent citizens who have no intention of committing terrorism.” (Reference 1)
Another temporary provision that was approved for a strangely long period of one year, is related to biometric identification. In light of the terror acts on Oct. 7th, Israel was faced with the complex task of identifying a large number of victims - some of whom were almost impossible to recognize, as well as obtaining a status on the missing and kidnapped Israelis. The government’s solution was to use the biometric database of Israeli citizens for this essential and urgent purpose, which includes transferring information from the biometric database in the Ministry of the Interior to the police, Shabak, Intelligence Agencies and the IDF.
Those who disagree with this provision questioned why it was necessary to create it in the first place, as there are currently procedures in the existing law regarding information requests to security agencies. It was mentioned that this provision is essentially establishing a parallel, or even a bypassing, mechanism to the court and to the existing law. Furthermore, it is not limited to the tasks of identifying bodies and missing persons, but rather it allows security agencies to demand, receive and possess biometric identification data of a living person, who is not necessarily missing or suspected of being dead. (Reference 1)
To wrap up, I’ll end with a question and a speculation:
We see a strong US involvement in this war, we see China and Russia positioning themselves around this conflict, and my next question is whether Israel will become the next in line proxy war zone - after Ukraine and Russia? There’s clearly an East vs. West battle here, orchestrated or not, and as an Israeli that feels like a pawn on a chess board, I would like to get some answers that will help me navigate my life.
In my view, this war is driven by geopolitical interests, as well as local tensions that have reached a boiling point.
Furthermore, war always fuels certain economies: US bankers and the US military industrial complex seem to be encouraging this war, in light of potential profits. When I zoom out even further, I see globalist agendas at play, and their driving factors are:
1) diversion from an upcoming global FIAT monetary collapse, followed by CBDC, which is their solution for it, and
2) the energy - oil and gas - control game, which is related to the weakening petrodollar and the destabilisation of US hegemony.
That's my understanding of the global landscape in a nutshell, which I shall continue to research and collect information on.
Thank you for your attention, and thanks to everyone who has supported me lately.
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