Defending Civil Liberties and Democracy

NIF and our grantees are fighting to ensure that, amidst this public health crisis, Israel’s democratic institutions remain strong and civil liberties are protected.

During the pandemic, the Netanyahu government has tried to infringe on civil liberties by pushing the use of far-reaching cellphone surveillance. This is not a public health policy to flatten the curve, this is government overreach to roll back basic rights during a pandemic.

The prospective government’s intention to quickly annexe parts of the West Bank shows how Israel’s current leadership is trying to take advantage of the pandemic to make unilateral moves that could cause irreparable damage to Israeli democracy and make the occupation permanent. NIF is supporting organisations to mobilise, educate, and sound the alarm about this danger to Israel’s future.



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When Israel’s interim government ordered the Shin Bet security services to track the cell phones of civilians infected or suspected of being infected with COVID-19, NIF grantees the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Adalah: The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel challenged the measure in the Supreme Court. In the first Supreme Court hearing ever broadcast live online, ACRI and Adalah delivered oral arguments. In a victory for privacy advocates everywhere, the Court ruled that any government surveillance of citizens must have legislative oversight.

As Israel’s government rapidly issued emergency regulations, NIF grantees worked to ensure government transparency. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned the Attorney General to make public the government’s rules for enforcing the new emergency regulations, and the Movement for Freedom of Information petitioned the Supreme Court, demanding greater transparency around government deliberations and decisions related to the crisis.