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9 Apr, 2019 16:35

1,200 hidden cameras seized from Israeli polling stations as Netanyahu defends Likud move

1,200 hidden cameras seized from Israeli polling stations as Netanyahu defends Likud move

Police in Israel have confiscated over 1,200 illegal hidden cameras from Likud activists in Arab polling stations, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his party’s use of recording devices.

The cameras were worn by Likud election volunteers in Arab-majority towns, including Sakhnin, Majd al-Krum, Nazareth, Tamra and Jisr a-Zarka. Likud confirmed it had hired 1,200 election observers and fitted them with cameras.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there was “a number of suspected irregularities in polling stations in the northern region.”

Channel 13 reports some cameras were also found at polling stations in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

READ MORE: IDF puts Palestinians on lockdown but settlers can move freely during Israeli election

Central Elections Committee head Hanan Meltzer has filed a complaint to the Israel Police, saying the cameras were illegal and could only ever be taken to polling stations in “exceptional circumstances in order to report an incident.”

After news of the devices emerged, Netanyahu said he believed “there should be cameras everywhere, not hidden ones,” adding that the devices should “ensure a fair vote.”

However, Likud has been accused of using the cameras to intimidate Arab voters. “Netanyahu wants to lower the percentage of Arabs arriving at the polls,” claimed Ahmed Tibi of the Hadash-Taal alliance of two Arab parties.

Arab voter turnout is at a low “never seen before,” prominent pollster Camil Fuchs said, with a 20 percent turnout at 3.30pm. At the last election, 63 percent of the Arab electorate voted. Meanwhile, voter turnout for Israel is at 42.8 percent as of 4pm.

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