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Attorney general allows protests at Ben-Gurion Airport with ‘appropriate restrictions’ from IAA, Israel Police

Ruling deems Israel's main international travel hub a 'public space'

Israelis protest against the government's planned judicial overhaul, at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, July 11, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

As the “Day of Disruption” protests took place across the country on Tuesday, Israel’s Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara affirmed that protests at the Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv are legal.

"The law does not prohibit demonstrations at the airport," stated a letter sent by Deputy Attorney General Avital Sompolinsky on behalf of Baharav-Miara. "Ben-Gurion Airport is a public space, and therefore, every person has the right to freedom of expression and demonstration in this space.”

Earlier on Tuesday morning, police removed a group of demonstrators from the airport who were greeting passengers as they entered the Arrivals Hall, continuing to protest the Israeli government.

Sompolinsky's letter also stated that the police have permission to establish “appropriate restrictions.”

“This is a sensitive public area, and therefore, appropriate restrictions and conditions should be established for demonstrations within its premises,” he wrote.

Israel Police have been given the authority to limit the time, place and manner of protests in order to maintain safety and public order at the airport.

Sompolinsky said the Israel Airport Authority (IAA) has permission to restrict people who do not have a flight ticket on the same day from entering the building. In addition, the IAA has the power to restrict certain activities, such as speeches or flag-waving.

“The right to demonstrate in this area will be limited only when it is deemed almost certain that there is a likelihood of severe disturbance to public order,” Baharav-Miara said.

Following the attorney general's announcement, protest leaders called on demonstrators to gather at the airport on Tuesday for a protest at 4 p.m. Israel time.'

The attorney general faced sharp criticism this week from members of the Israeli government, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who accused Baharav-Miara of being too lenient on military reservist's “insubordination” by refusing to serve. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog issued a statement condemning the "unrestrained" verbal attack on the attorney general, saying that lambasting Israel's civil servants "is intolerable and unacceptable."

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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