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Israel's anti-terror law "dangerous" and "anti-Arab"

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Reprinted from Jonathan Cook Website

The law will have a "chilling effect" on Palestinian minority's solidarity efforts with Palestinians under occupation

The law will have a 'chilling effect' on Palestinian minority's solidarity efforts with Palestinians under occupation.
The law will have a 'chilling effect' on Palestinian minority's solidarity efforts with Palestinians under occupation.
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Wearing a T-shirt, chanting songs at a demonstration or donating clothing could be enough for Israel's large Palestinian minority to fall foul of a newly passed anti-terrorism law, civil rights groups have warned.

The legislation, applied in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, has been condemned as a "dangerous" threat to civil liberties. It dramatically broadens the range of offences to include sympathizing with, encouraging and failing to prevent terrorism.

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According to legal experts, it also gives Israeli police sweeping new powers to arrest suspects and deny them access to lawyers. Courts will be required to hand out long jail sentences.

Leaders of Israel's 1.7-million-strong Palestinian minority, which accounts for a fifth of the population, said the law was "anti-Arab" rather than "anti-terror." They fear it will be readily exploited to jail Palestinian citizens and East Jerusalem residents for political activity in showing solidarity with Palestinians under occupation.

Palestinians in the West Bank will be largely unaffected because they are subject to a separate system of Israeli military courts.

Several years' jail

Adalah, a Palestinian legal organization in Israel, says the law would effectively import into Israel many of the draconian military orders currently used against Palestinians under occupation.

Nadeem Shehadeh, an Adalah lawyer, told Al Jazeera the law's vague definitions meant waving a flag, sharing a Facebook post or being caught in clashes at a demonstration could result in prosecution under the law and several years of jail.

"Throwing a stone, jostling with police or chanting slogans could all be treated as violations of the law," he said.

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In any future Israeli military operations in Gaza, he added, Palestinian citizens who make donations to humanitarian groups -- of clothing or food, for example -- could risk prosecution for aiding terror.

"If enforced harshly, this [law] could lead to lots of arrests and prosecutions -- with those found guilty facing heavy punishments."

"Chilling effect"

Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, denounced the new measure too, saying it was likely to have a "chilling effect" on efforts by the Palestinian minority to show support for Palestinians under occupation.

Haneen Zoabi of the Joint List, a coalition of mainly Palestinian lawmakers, told Al Jazeera:

"It is this law that is the act of terror. This law doesn't just deal with actions in the past but with what Israel thinks you might do in the future. It is designed to terrorize and persecute citizens over their political beliefs and sympathies."

Such fears were heightened on Thursday when the police minister, Gilad Erdan, said he would ensure that local activists who support a boycott of Israel "pay a heavy price."

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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