Some Twitter users have branded Israel’s police a bunch of liars. Others have been urging the government to dismantle the entire institution, while there have also been those who expressed their anger at the Jewish state “losing” its democratic values and “infringing upon basic rights”.
Weeks after revelations by Calcalist that suggested Israeli police have been spying on former politicians, mayors, and political activists for years, the news website has stirred up yet another storm.On Monday, the publication unveiled a long list of people who have been monitored by the police, apparently with no warrant from a court to do so, and without any grounds to suspect that they had violated the law.The infamous list includes a number of prominent figures from both the private and public sector, and it also features key ministers, one of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sons, Avner, as well as a state witness in the ex-PM trials, Shlomo Filber.
Politicians from the left, right, and centre have already commented on what appears to be one of the biggest scandals in Israel’s history, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowing to bring those responsible to justice.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz tweeted that he was following the reports with concern and that he was “worried” about ordinary Israelis, whose privacy has been exposed and have “zero ability to defend themselves”.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted that if the reports prove to be accurate, the revelations are “an earthquake” and the deeds of the police are more suited to “dark regimes of the previous century”.
Boiling With Anger
But for ordinary Israelis, who have taken to social media networks in the wake of the revelations to vent their anger, promises by politicians are simply not enough, and the general mood on the street is that people are boiling with anger.
That anger is directed mainly at law enforcement. Some have called it “the police of liars”. Others have suggested dismantling the entire institution, and there were also those who expressed their dismay at Israel turning into a “police state”, where the rights of citizens are no longer protected.
The police, however, are not the only culprits in this saga, with netizens also accusing the prosecution and the judicial system of joining forces with the police and exceeding their powers.
“…There is no faith in the judicial system and the police. They are not guarding citizens. The prosecutor’s office doesn’t want to release the truth. There are no judges in Jerusalem… Everything is infected with filth”, wrote one user.
Another one lamented: “…There is no police in Israel. There is no prosecutor’s office. All we have is corruption. I am sad, that’s all”.
Distrust in the System
That frustration is part of a general trend in Israel. In 2019, even before the revelations by Calcalist, public trust in the police and the judiciary had been rather low. Three years later, after the shocking claims, that poor rating has dropped even more.
A recent poll revealed that the police only enjoyed the trust of 6 percent of Israelis. Faith in the country’s courts and the prosecutor’s office was also low, at 16 and 3 percent respectively, and this is why some Israelis have been calling on the state to bring those responsible to justice.
“So we do we have: violent, political, and corrupt police that have been threatening their rivals. Only an outside probe, brought from the outside, that will be covered extensively by the foreign press will be able to restore public trust”, wrote one Twitter user.
“It turns out that it [the spyware – ed.] was not only used against Netanyahu and his people. The right and the left should stand up and demand an investigation [into the deeds of the police – ed.]. This is a police state that has been spying on its citizens. It seems that we are no longer a Jewish, nor a democratic state”, tweeted another.
Those calls are probably going to be answered. Israel’s Minister of Public Security Omer Bar Lev has already announced that he will open an investigation into the conduct of the police. But the question that needs to be answered is whether that probe will be able to resurrect the dying trust of the public.