Citing noise, minister asks police to move protesters away from residential areas

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Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman on Tuesday asked Israel Police to banish protesters from residential areas, saying they are making too much noise.

Demonstrations have been held across the country for the past six months against the government’s planned drastic overhaul of the judiciary, which critics say will dangerously erode the country’s democratic character.

In a letter to Police Chief Kobi Shabtai reported by Hebrew media, Silman suggested that the protesters be kept away from anywhere people live, which would include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“While guaranteeing the democratic right to demonstrate, it is not reasonable for citizens to suffer from an unreasonable and serious noise hazard in their private homes,” she wrote.

Silman explained to Shabtai that in April, police asked her ministry to check the noise levels at demonstrations in Jerusalem after receiving complaints from local residents.

Weekly rallies have been held at President Isaac Herzog’s official residence in Jerusalem, where negotiations between coalition and opposition party representatives took place in an effort to reach an agreement on the controversial legislative package.

Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman attends a conference in Haifa, March 21, 2023. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

Demonstrations have been held near Netanyahu’s private residences, as well as the official Prime Minister’s Residence and at the homes of ministers in the hardline government.

In April, the Environment Ministry found that noise levels until 10 p.m. at the Jerusalem protests were 77 on the logarithmic decibel scale, which is 16 times the permitted level of 65 decibels for those hours.

After 10 p.m. noise was recorded at 64.3 decibels, 100 times higher than the permitted limit of 45 decibels.

Silman said that the use of noisy devices such as amplifiers, horns, and percussion instruments near residences and educational institutions “causes unreasonable noise during the day and serious noise hazards during the night. This leads to impairment of the ability of those living in hearing range to study, rest, heal or derive reasonable enjoyment of their property.”

She asked that demonstrators be kept 300 meters (984 feet) from residential areas until 10 p.m. and two kilometers from those areas after that time.

Police have not yet responded to her request, Channel 12 reported.

According to the network, similar sound checks were made of demonstrations against the previous government when protests were held by right-wing activists outside then-prime minister Naftali Bennett’s home, and those were also found to be too loud.

Police did not take any action at the time.

Demonstrators outside the home of Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett, at the time still in negotiations to form a government, in Ra’anana, on June 4, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Protest leaders have urged activists to demonstrate at the homes of coalition ministers. Tuesday saw a raucous protest outside the home of Justice Minister Yariv Levin during which six people were detained by police.

Silman herself has also been targeted in the demonstrations against the judicial overhaul, with protesters rallying outside events that she has attended in the past.

When she was a lawmaker in Bennett’s government, Silman faced a wave of protests outside her home and repeated threats as her right-wing party decided to join a coalition with centrist, left-wing and Arab parties. The Knesset Guard upped the security around Silman and other lawmakers from her Yamina party after they were targeted by right-wing activists.

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