Litigating Against-Ben Gvir

29 March 2023

Shortly after Benjamin Netanyahu’s government took power, NIF flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned to overturn some of the new, expanded powers that Netanyahu had granted Itamar Ben Gvir in his role as National Security Minister. These powers gave him a high level of control over the day-to-day operations of the police. He had been urging the police, for example, to deal more harshly with the anti-judicial reform protestors — and, in some cases, it seemed they listened. 

But given the police’s monopoly on the use of force and ability to violate human rights ostensibly in the name of civilian safety, ACRI argued that expanding Ben Gvir’s powers was liable to turn the police into a political enforcement force. Israel’s High Court of Justice sided with ACRI and ordered Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir to step back, and not to intervene in police actions, especially ones against the demonstrations against the government’s judicial coup. 

Judge Amit wrote, “The minister is not allowed to give operational instructions regarding the ways to implement his policy, the manner of using force, the means of dispersing demonstrations, and the conditions regarding the time, place and manner of holding the event. The minister must refrain from giving operative instructions to the police, either directly or indirectly, and this is especially true regarding protests and demonstrations against the government.”

ACRI said in response, “The court has made clear to Minister Ben-Gvir the limits of his position — he has no authority to intervene in the conduct of the police during demonstrations. We will not hesitate to return to court if it appears that he continues to act as a supreme police commissioner with the aim of eliminating the demonstrations.”