Palestinian sentenced to 17 months in prison for Facebook ‘incitement’
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BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Jerusalem magistrate court sentenced a Palestinian to 17 months in Israeli prison on Tuesday for “supporting terrorist organizations” on Facebook.
Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported that the Palestinian was a resident of the Shufat refugee camp, which is cut off from the rest of occupied East Jerusalem by Israel’s separation wall. He was reportedly convicted of 12 counts of “incitement to violence and terrorism” on Facebook.
Shufat refugee camp is located in northeastern Jerusalem within Israel’s municipal boundaries of the city, but is encircled on three sides by Israel’s separation wall, forcing residents to pass through a congested military checkpoint to access the rest of Jerusalem where most claim residency status.
In September, the camp experienced at least seven consecutive days of violent raids in the weeks following the fatal shooting of a camp resident by Israeli forces while he was driving home.
In recent months, Israel has detained scores of Palestinians for social media activity, alleging that a wave of unrest that swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October 2015 was encouraged largely by “incitement.”
In October, a report was released by Defense for Children International – Palestine, detailing that at least five Palestinian minors had been imprisoned by Israel without being charged in previous months, after sharing social media posts that Israeli authorities alleged amounted to “incitement” to commit violence.
In September, Facebook agreed to work with the Israeli government to “minimize online anti-Semitic incitement” — in an effort to pressure the social media site to coordinate to remove content considered to promote “terrorism.”
Israel had previously blamed Facebook outright for the perceived proliferation of incitement, with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reportedly saying that Facebook chairman and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg had “blood on his hands” for not adequately cooperating with Israel to remove content.
Earlier this year, the controversial “Facebook bill” passed the first reading in the Knesset, which would allow Israeli officials to force the social media giant to remove certain content through a court order if there are suspicions of “incitement.”
Despite Facebook complying with 95 percent of the Israeli government’s removal requests in recent months, some members of the Knesset have expressed indignation that Facebook has not taken enough action to remove content inciting “acts of terror against Jews.”
Meanwhile, Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the outbreak of violence. Many Palestinians have also pointed out that Israeli violence has continued to shape everyday life in the occupied territory, regardless of any recent “upticks” in clashes or attacks.