Israeli repression extends to anti-war Jewish Israelis and Palestinians
Israel's repression of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank has escalated significantly post-October 7. It is crucial to mention that Israel isn't only targeting Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line but is also persecuting Jewish Israeli citizens opposing the war or even calling for a ceasefire.
Recently, the Israeli Knesset passed an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism Law, criminalising the "systematic and continuous consumption of publications of a terrorist organisation", with a maximum penalty of one year's imprisonment.
To date, scores of Palestinian journalists, politicians, activists and ordinary people have been investigated by the Israeli police for posting online material or expressing opinions deemed inciteful by the authorities or for holding anti-war protests.
Censorship even extended to the Imams of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Israeli police have warned Muslim clerics against addressing the war in Gaza in their Friday sermons.
Occupied West Bank before the war
To clarify, the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, were at the boiling stage before 7 October, the date when Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad forces penetrated Israel's military fortifications around the Gaza Strip and briefly took control of several of the Israeli settlements there.
To date, Israel has killed 424 Palestinians in the West Bank, with 208 deaths occurring before the onset of the war in near-daily military raids in refugee camps in Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem.
Dangerous, unchecked settler attacks in Palestinian towns like Huwara and Turmusaya only inflamed the situation. Moreover, the Israeli police restricting the access of Muslim worshipers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Jewish holidays in September was another agitator.
The desecration of Christian sites and assaults on the clergy by Jewish radicals were alarmingly on the rise, forcing Church leaders in Jerusalem to appeal for "international protection".
After October 7, the Israeli military tightened its grip on the West Bank with more checkpoints around Palestinian towns, bringing movement to a near standstill.
In the first six weeks that followed the war, Israel's military killed more Palestinians in the West Bank than it killed in the previous nine months.
In October, the number of Palestinian detainees surged from 5,000 to nearly 8,000, many of whom were subjected to administrative detention, including 18 journalists. Others were detained for eight days before being brought to the court.
Thirty-one journalists in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been arrested so far. The most recent detainee was Mirvat Al-Azeh, reportedly questioned for mocking an Israeli woman held hostage by Hamas.
As Israel's war on Gaza progressed, Israel sharpened its crackdown on the right to assembly and freedom of expression, especially when it came to Palestinians.
Earlier in November, the Israeli parliament passed legislation that prohibits expressions of praise or support of Hamas and the systemic "consumption of publications of a terrorist organisation".
Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel, called the amendment "intrusive and draconian".
"[it] invades the realm of personal thoughts and beliefs and significantly amplifies state surveillance of social media use".
Concurrently, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected petitions to allow anti-war protests in the Palestinian towns of Um el-Fahem and Sakhnin. When a handful of Palestinian politicians, some former members of the Knesset, attempted to protest the war in Nazareth, the Israeli police swiftly rounded them up.
'An enormous power'
Dr Meir Baruchin, an Israeli activist opposing the war on Gaza, was recently detained and investigated for sedition and intent to commit treason. He was put in solitary confinement for four days. The 62-year-old was, until recently, civics and American history teacher at a high school in Petah Tikva. His employer, the Petah Tikva municipality, filed a complaint with the police after he published posts on Facebook critical of the Israeli army and government's conduct in the war in Gaza.
When he was brought in for questioning, the police dug posts going as far back as four years ago.
Luckily for Dr Baruchin, the General Attorney's office did not press charges contrary to the police demands and was subsequently released.
A conviction on a treason charge could carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
"I think when the government has control over the education system, the military, the media, it holds an enormous power to change the consciences of the people", Dr Baruchin told The New Arab.
However, he did lose his job, and the Ministry of Education revoked his teaching licence.
"That's the atmosphere in Israel today...Political persecution no other way to describe it", he added.
Dr Baruchin believes many more will be arrested for voicing opposition to the war.