Media watchdog group demands Facebook shut down accounts from the Fatah organization that promote violence against Israel.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
A leading Israeli watchdog group that monitors what the Palestinians are saying in Arabic is demanding that Facebook immediately shut down pages run by the Fatah organization of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that are being used to incite violence in Jerusalem.
Palestinian Media Watch founder and director Itamar Marcus sent a letter to Adi Soffer Teeni, CEO of Facebook Israel, with clear and detailed evidence of how Fatah is inciting to violence.
The documentation by Marcus includes a posting on May 8 on Fatah’s official Facebook account which read in part: “The Fatah Movement with all its elements and leadership calls to continue this uprising… Fatah calls on everyone to raise the level of confrontation in the coming days and hours in the Palestinian lands, the points of friction, and the settlers’ roads.”
That posting, which calls for violence in Jerusalem and on roads in Judea and Samaria, was shared by numerous related accounts, including that of Fatah Deputy Chairman Mahmoud Al-Aloul, Fatah Central Committee member Rawhi Fattouh and the Palestinian Authority Presidential Guard, as well as regional Fatah accounts in Syria and Hebron, the northern Gaza strip, and Khan El-Sheikh.
Fatah’s Shabiba student movement also promoted the post, inciting young Palestinians to engage in “heroic battle” in Jerusalem. Mobs of Arabs had attacked officers in Jerusalem and on Monday almost lynched three Israelis driving outside the Old City who were rescued by police at the last second.
The Fatah statement further called for “a comprehensive confrontation in all the Palestinian lands” before urging Palestinians to take to the streets for a “day of action” on Monday.
In another incident on Monday, a seven-month-old baby girl was taken to Hadassah hospital after being hit in the head by a rock thrown by Palestinians.
There have been numerous complaints over the years about Facebook allowing incitement and propaganda on Fatah Facebook accounts.
“Facebook loves to brag that it does not allow itself to be a platform for racism and violence but looks the other way when it is Palestinians who are promoting hate and terror,” said Marcus. “Facebook allows itself to be a platform for vicious anti-Semitism, denial of Israel’s right to exist, glorification of murderers of Israeli children and, as we see again now, even promotion of terror.”
“The use of the Facebook platform to spread incitement and direct calls to violence is a clear breach of Facebook’s community guidelines,” added Maurice Hirsch, PMW Director of Legal Strategies, who also signed the letter to Teeni.
Pointing out that merely flagging a single post for incitement to violence “would be futile, since those posts could quickly be replaced by others,” PMW added, “Nothing short of removing the offending pages will suffice.”
Although the watchdog cited only the one post in the letter, it has documented numerous examples of Fatah’s incitement to violence in recent weeks, including at least two postings of songs glorifying violence in the wake of a recent terror attack in which a Palestinian shot dead a 19-year-old student and wounded two other teenagers at a bus stop.
“Now that we are in the midst of a terror wave, Facebook’s permitting Fatah to continue to promote terror is life-threatening,” Marcus said. “If Facebook does not immediately close down the terror-promoting Palestinian Facebook pages, we will submit our complaint to the police who we hope will close down Facebook’s Israel office and bring in all their officials for questioning.”
Last week, Bloomberg reported that Facebook removed nine account networks, including some 450 Palestinian accounts that the company said were behind the spread of false information and manipulation of users online. The networks had been targeting users in the Middle East with content promoting Fatah.
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