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Israel Police Threaten Strict Measures Against Pro-Gaza Protests Within its Borders

“Anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome. I will put them on the buses heading there now.”

Israel’s police chief, Kobi Shabtai, has announced a “zero tolerance” policy for protests in support of Gaza within Israel, warning that anti-war demonstrators could be sent to the besieged Palestinian enclave that has faced intense Israeli bombardment for nearly two weeks.

Shabtai’s remarks were made in a video posted on the Israeli police’s TikTok channel on Tuesday. Israeli media reported on Wednesday that the police had disbanded a rally in Haifa supporting Gaza, leading to the arrest of six individuals.

“Whoever wants to become an Israeli citizen, welcome,” Shabtai stated. “Anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome. I will put them on the buses heading there now.”

He emphasised that there would be “zero tolerance for any instance of incitement,” and there would be no authorization for protests. “We’re in a state of war… we won’t allow all sorts of people to come and test us,” Shabtai added.

According to Israel Police spokesman Eli Levy, since the beginning of the Gaza conflict on October 7, 63 people in Israel have been arrested on suspicion of supporting or inciting “terror.” The police are actively monitoring social media to identify Palestinians in Israel expressing support for Hamas, the group governing the besieged Gaza Strip.

Israel has imposed a complete siege on Gaza, severely restricting access to food, water, electricity, and fuel for its 2.3 million residents following an attack by Hamas fighters into southern Israel. Israeli authorities have reported significant casualties, with more than 1,400 people killed, including civilians, and over 4,400 injured in the attack. In response, Israel has conducted extensive airstrikes in Gaza, resulting in widespread destruction.

Meanwhile, the Israeli parliament’s ethics panel suspended left-wing parliament member Ofer Cassif for making what they deemed anti-Israel statements after the outbreak of the conflict. Cassif had accused the Netanyahu government of enacting a plan in Gaza comparable to the Nazis’ “Final Solution” against Jews in Europe and suggested that Israel wanted the violence to occur, referring to the Hamas attack.

The suspension of Cassif has sparked controversy, with the parliamentarian condemning the decision as an attack on freedom of political expression.

The situation in the region remains tense, with Israel maintaining strict measures to curb protests and expressions of solidarity with Gaza within its borders.

Kiki Garba.

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