Five Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem were indicted by an Israeli court on charges of âincitementâ on social media, Israeli news website Ynet reported on Monday, according to Ma’an.
Ynet said that the five Palestinians — identified as Muhammad Mahimar, 19, from Anata, Sufian Mahmoud, 26, from Issawiya, Muhammad Samasana, 23, from Shufat refugee camp, an unnamed 17-year-old, and another unidentified Palestinian — were indicted by a Jerusalem magistrate court for âcalling for terror attacks to be carried out against Israel,â and for Facebook posts allegedly supporting a deadly shooting attack at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on July 14.
Following the attack, which left three Palestinian assailants and two Israeli police officers dead, Mahimar reportedly published a number of posts on his Facebook, one of which Ynet translated as saying âwith a rock, a knife, an ax, a Molotov Cocktail, or a lighter. Spontaneous without planning. Three martyrs came from Umm al-Fahm. A thousand consolations are with us and we are following you. We were raised on the holy way of death.â
The teen, according to Ynet, also uploaded a picture of an Israeli policeman holding his face as paramedics tended to wounds sustained by one of his colleague, accompanied by the caption: âHell and darkness in the next life.â
Mahimar was also reportedly indicted for several posts he uploaded in 2014 on his Facebook page allegedly calling for âviolent and terror activities against Israeli civilians and security forces,â and for praising and supporting the Hamas movement, which Israel considers a terrorist organization.
Mahmoud and Samasana were also indicted for uploading posts âcalling for violence and terror against Israelis and showing solidarity with terror groups,â Ynet reported, without specifying the content of the posts.
Meanwhile, the unnamed 17-year-old reportedly posted a picture of two of the Palestinians who were slain in the shootout at Al-Aqsa with a caption saying âA picture of two martyrs from the heroic attack that they uploaded before the attackâŠ#smile-tomorrow-more-beautiful #martyrs-of Al-Aqsa.â
The teenager also published a post on Facebook saying âThe martyrs are similar to the beauty of the Dome of the Rock, to the beauty of the Old City. On this holy Friday, four martyrs ascend, to prove to everyone that the intifada continues.â
The fifth Palestinian, who Ynet did not identify, was indicted for posting: âToday, Palestine got four martyrs. Our dead are in heaven and their dead are burning. The martyrs of Jerusalem.â
Israeli leadership has boasted numerous times that severe security measures and “Facebook arrests” have succeeded in reducing the trend of small-scale attacks against Israelis, despite a poll conducted last year by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research that found support for attacks declined “due, it seems, to a rising perception in its inefficacy.”
Israeli news daily Haaretz reported, in April, that Israeli forces detained at least 400 Palestinians in less than a year over social media activity, and that 400 others were detained for the same reason by the Palestinian Authority, through its widely condemned policy of security coordination with Israel.
As of January, only 200 Palestinians were had faced trial for such charges, according the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement 7amleh.
A more recent report by Haaretz revealed how Israel has been monitoring social media profiles and subsequently making arrests when âthe kid doesnât know that he is a terrorist yet,â as one Israeli army officer put it.
The report also quoted a former Israeli military prosecutor as saying that, since September 2015, dozens of social media posts resulted in administrative detentions — Israelâs widely condemned policy of internment without trial or charge used almost exclusively against Palestinians — while others were formally convicted if they were âidentified as liable to carry out a terror attack.â
By contrast, a report released by 7amleh documented that slanderous, provocative, and threatening posts made by Israelis against Arabs and Palestinians more than doubled in 2016, reaching 675,000 posts made by 60,000 Hebrew-speaking Facebook users — without a single case being opened against an Israeli.
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Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.