Israeli Army spies on social protest

The STALKER marching along protestors in Tel Aviv, photo by Ariella Azoulay
The STALKER marching along protestors in Tel Aviv, photo by Ariella Azoulay

Some 10,000 protesters demanding social justice took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night, one week after a similar rally turned into a clash between protestors and police. Unlike last week’s protests, no major incidents were reported.  According to demonstrators however, the Army illegally placed at least one surveillance device among the protesters.

Protest rallies were held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheba, Haifa and Afula, under the dual banner of “Social Justice” and “No to police brutality”.

The Tel Aviv rally began when crowds gathered at the Habima Theater Plaza, from which they marched to the Tel Aviv Museum. Large police forces were also present at the rally and several of the city’s main streets were blocked.

Around 10 pm, hundreds of activists split off the main procession and started marching towards the Government Plaza located on Menachem Begin Street, blocking traffic on nearby Kaplan and Namir streets. Tel Aviv District Police forces were deployed alongside this demonstration as well.

No major incidents were registered. According to protestors in Tel Aviv however, the Israeli Army illegally placed an armored device used to intersect wireless communication among the protestors. The device, known as STALKER – Mobile Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition & Reconnaissance (ISTAR) System, was developed by Rafael, Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., an Israeli military corporation.

According to Rafael, the STALKER is “the ideal choice for a multi-mission response, whether as a completely autonomous forward observer or integral part of the maneuvering force.” It is equipped with day/night electro-optical sensors, radar, long-range acquisition capabilities, and GPS-based navigation support.

Rafael highlights that the STALKER “supplies the information required to construct a highly accurate, real-time situation picture,” and it can work in a wide range of scenarios-ranging from open country, to rugged mountainous terrain and urban environments.

The Association for Progressive Democracy, asked the army spokesman to clarify why the military surveillance vehicle was at social protest, and whether the army used any other specific means to interfere with the demonstrations. However, the Army did not answer the request for information.

Some 300 people gathered in Ha’Em Park in Haifa and a similar number of activists gathered in central Beersheba.

Several hundred protestors gathered in Jerusalem’s Paris Square as well. The protestors marched to Zion square where they blocked access to the Light Rail, chanting “We are all the Opposition.” Police forces were on the scene; however no major incidents were reported.

* This article was published by the Alternative Information Center (AIC)

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