UN expresses concern for persecuted human rights lawyer in Israel
Over the past few years, the State of Israel, or perhaps the Deep State, have targeted human rights defenders, and also persecuted lawyers who defend them. Here is a brief history, with the latest lawyer, still free but under major attack and at risk.
Following a successful appearance of activists in Geneva at the ICESCR in 2011, which resulted in the despatch of a Rappporteur for Freedom of Speech - Frank LaRue in 2012, immediately after he left, the State of Israel started a wave of arrests of activists.
In 2013, August 28th, journalist Revital Hovel reported in Haaretz that the Administration of the Courts is pushing law enforcement to 'find ways to curb the criticism of judges on the internet - as this paragraph in the article shows:
See, In Defense of Judges - Court Administration seeks to block online criticism of judges. The Court Administration has asked the state prosecution to examine what legal steps can be taken against websites which malign judges, including whether they can be shut down.
This was the second time that year the Court Administration moved to examine ways to protect judges. That October, Haaretz reported that Supreme Court President Asher Grunis and director Michael Spitzer had asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Prosecutor Moshe Lador to look into banning demonstrations near judges homes.
So, in 2014-2015, a Committee for the preservation of the Reputation of Judges was formed - comprising of the President of the Supreme Court, Attorney General, Chief of Police and other senior officials to devise strategies to combat judge 'slandering' without appearing undemocratic. In November 2015, the Chief Administrator of the Courts disseminated a new procedure to establish a database documenting any person who wrote against judges in the internet or on social media (the Schpitzer Database). A new position was created, Officer in Charge of Judge slandering and Ms. Liat Yousim was appointed to carry out the new procedures, which included hiring media monitoring companies, filing police complaints and notifying the judges who wrote against them.
At around the same time, in November 2015, the President of the District Court of Tel Aviv - Eitan Orenshtein - authorised the Tel Aviv police; Cyber Unit to silently enter homes of actiivsts and plant spyware in their computers to divert all internet traffic to a police server. Most of the content of the court application is still sanitised and is covered by State Immunity. In addition, all judges of the Magistrates Court of Tel Aviv were notified of an ongoing investigation to crack down on protesters, and many of them were asked to sign ex parte orders directed at communication companies such as Google, Facebook, Wordpress and Israeli phone companies. The police were even exempted from offering probable cause. In particular Judge Ronit Poznanski, who became the subject of a letter sent to the Supreme Court in 2019 by ACRI (association for civil rights).
During 2016, several 'small scale' criminal cases and disciplinary complaints against lawyers were launched to test the legal atmosphere.
Attorney Yossi Nakar who is a vociferous voice against Welfare authorities and child outplacement received several grievance complaints from the Court Administration.
Attorney Barak Cohen, who orchestrates protests against Israeli Banks predatory mortgage foreclosures and usurious rates, was indicted for insulting a policeman he circulated in a song. Attorney Cohen was later convicted and disbarred. The prosecution demanded he spend one year in prison, but he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service.
Barak Cohen's own defense lawyer, Chaim Shtanger also received a disciplinary complaint and was suspended!
In 2019, this secret database was revealed, and Liat Yousim had to testify with police that the database had been used to concoct false claims against one man in particular - Ariel Formanovski, and the lawyer who represents him is Attorney Givati.
As revelations of tampering with courts, judges, monitoring citizens is coming to light, and the criminal practices of the Court Administration itself being the initiator, Attorney Givati is working on another level entirely.
As a juvenile lawyer for almost a decade, he has seen the abuse of children almost on a daily basis. The Knesset admits they are removing 20,000 children from home, and professionals have come forward to say 80% don't need to go. Attorney Givati says 'in over 2000 cases, I can safely say that 90% of the children did not need to be removed, and whatever reasons the Welfare thought they had to take the children, it is the abuse in the system which is far worse than anything they were trying to prevent. They simply do not know what to do with these children'
But further than this, he started to uncover with his research, shell companies and money laundering tied into the Welfare System and private institutions. Also strong links to religious groups and the courts themselves who are all complicit in the profitable removal of children.
For a year, he has been targeted by false arrests, hacking of his computer and surveillance professionally and privately. Fake clients were presented; his phone was hacked and he was put into a system called Serena, a special elite police unit to keep tabs on his daily activity. Attorney Givati has also been a victim through his own personal divorce issues, where the State has infiltrated into all his personal affairs, demanding to know where he is, preventing him from travelling, and corruption in the court of breathtaking levels. His own children, (as he was warned 6 months prior in a police interrogation) were taken into one of the shelters he was researching. An ex Shabak agent,Alon Dagan, now his own personal social worker, has been given carte blanche by judges to make any decision regarding taking his children once again, after he signed already once before for the children to be locked in a domestic violence centre. Fortunately Attorney Givati rescued his children, but has now been denied an evidence hearing for an explanation of this illegal kidnapping.
Following his appearance in a closed meeting with a UN committee, they expressed concern at this targeting, and human rights organisations are in liaison with him in order to establish how to protect him; publish the crimes against him, and find ways for him to continue his work safely.
The Democratic State of Israel, is working undercover to prevent all democratic rights to speak out. Rather than examine the system itself, it prefers to silence the voices for families and children. Perhaps the profits are greater than the whistle blowers even know.