Likud placed 1,200 hidden cameras in polling stations in Arab communities

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Likud party has placed some 1,200 hidden cameras in polling stations in Arab communities in order to catch fraudulent voting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Election Day, that cameras are necessary to “ensure a fair vote.”

“There should be cameras everywhere, not hidden ones,” he said.

Political parties can hire their own polling-station observers. Likud confirmed to Israeli media outlets that it hired 1,200 poll workers and gave them the cameras.

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The Central Elections Committee chairman, Hanan Melcer, a Supreme Court justice, issued an order prohibiting filming voters inside polling stations unless there is a specific concern about real voter fraud. Voters cannot be filmed arriving at the polling station or during voting.

The head of the Arab party Balad, Jamal Zahalka, in a complaint filed with the Elections Committee, called the cameras “an illegal measure meant to scare away voters.”

Some of the cameras were body cameras hidden on observers and party activists, the others were installed in the polling stations by right-wing activists, according to reports. Police confiscated dozens of cameras during the morning and afternoon.

Cameras are permitted after the polls close while the ballots are being counted. But everyone involved must be informed of the filming, which is then noted in the polling station’s minutes.

Israelis went to the polls to vote for a national legislature.