Israel imprisons journalist for Facebook status

Palestinians take part in a protest calling for the release of Bilal Kayed, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, in Gaza City, on 19 June.

Ashraf Amra APA images

An Israeli court in Jerusalem sentenced a Palestinian journalist to six month in prison for “incitement.”

Samah Dweik, 25, works for the Al-Quds newspaper and the online Quds News Network.

She was arrested on 10 April from her Jerusalem home and was charged with incitement for writing a status and posting an image on Facebook in support of Palestinians recently killed by Israeli forces.

According to Quds News Network, Dweik was convicted for using such words as “martyr” and “intifada” in her Facebook posts. Her lawyer’s arguments that these are common terms used in Arabic media was rejected by the Israeli judges.

Before her arrest, Dweik had been closely following the case of Marah Bakir, a schoolgirl who was walking to school with her friends last October, when Israeli police surrounded them, opened fired and then arrested her on the allegation that she was intending to stab an officer.

Dweik is one of six Palestinian women currently in prison for alleged incitement on social media.

Quds News Network published a photo it said showed Dweik smiling and waving as she was escorted by Israeli guards on the day of her sentencing.

As of June, there were 21 Palestinian journalists in Israeli prisons, according to prisoners rights group Addameer.

Scores of Palestinians have been arrested for their social media activity since October.

Last week, justice minister Ayelet Shaked and public security minister Gilad Erdan introduced a bill that would allow courts to order Internet companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to remove content considered a “danger to personal, public or state security.”

Facebook already removes content considered criminal, and frequently removes other content at the request of the Israeli government. The proposed law is said to give Israel unprecedented powers in court proceedings.

In June, Shaked lauded Twitter, Facebook and Google for removing 70 percent of “harmful content”.

In recent weeks, however, Shaked and Erdan have criticized Facebook for not removing enough content that allegedly promotes “terrorism.”

Erdan has said that the company has “blood on its hands” and called Facebook “a monster.”

Last week, the government-linked Israeli lawfare group Shurat HaDin sued Facebook in the US for material support for terrorism.

But the public antagonism Erdan and Shaked have expressed towards Facebook contradicts other signs of collaboration between the company and the Israeli government.

Shaked and Erdan announced their ministries would begin drafting the bill to compel the Internet companies to remove content one day after they met with top Facebook executives last month June.

That month, Facebook’s Israel office hired Jordana Cutler, longtime adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and previously chief of staff at the Israeli embassy in Washington, to head policy and communications.

In February, Simon Milner, Facebook’s policy director for the United Kingdom, Middle East and Africa, met with Erdan.

During the meeting, Erdan reportedly asked Facebook to help Israel monitor and police the social network – a task too large for the government’s capacity.

But Milner made no promises to Erdan. “The fact is that they are not doing anything,” Erdan told Al-Monitor two weeks after the meeting.

“Still, I am confident that in the end, they will have no choice. It will take the coordinated efforts of several countries to bring about the necessary change, but I am sure that in the end, social networks will be regulated,” Erdan added.

Such regulation will likely favor governments which have tried to outlaw popular movements by categorizing them as “terrorism,” a blanket and undefined term.

While Israeli ministers have launched a global campaign against alleged incitement by Palestinians, they have remained totally silent about calls for violence by Israelis against Palestinians on Facebook – perhaps the most notorious case being by justice minister Shaked herself.

Hassan Karajah

Meanwhile, Israel continues to use administrative detention to imprison Palestinian activists.

Organizer Hassan Karajah, 35, has been ordered to spend six months in prison without charge or trial.

The Israeli military handed down the order after canceling Karajah’s military court hearing, denying his family the chance to see him for the first time since he was detained on 12 July at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank.

Military prosecutors allege that Karajah is a “threat to the security of the state,” according to the prisoner advocacy group Samidoun, and invoked his involvement in the youth movement Herak Shababi which Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman has banned.

Muhannad Karajah, a lawyer with prisoners’ rights group Addameer, told Samidoun that he believed the arrest of Karajah was related to the current prisoner hunger strike in solidarity with Bilal Kayed.

Last month, Kayed was ordered to remain in prison under administrative detention after he completed a nearly 15-year prison sentence.

Kayed launched his hunger strike on 15 June to protest the indefinite extension of his imprisonment.

Over the last month more prisoners have joined the strike in solidarity with Kayed. As of Tuesday, the total number of strikers in several prisons across Israel rose to 56.

Kayed was first placed in solitary confinement after he launched his strike. He was transferred to Barzilai hospital earlier this month when his health sharply deteriorated. He is now shackled to the hospital bed and under heavy security.

Kayed is only consuming water and is refusing all supplements and medical care.

In a separate protest, two brothers have entered their third week of hunger strike against their administrative detention.

Muhammad and Mahmoud al-Balboul, 26 and 22 respectively, are suffering health problems and Mahmoud has lost about 26 pounds after 16 days of refusing meals.

The two were detained on 9 June during a raid in Bethlehem after their 14-year-old sister was arrested for allegedly possessing a knife while trying to cross into Israel.

The young girl, Nuran, has since been released from prison, while her brothers are currently being held without charge under a six-month order.




Wall to wall coverage belongs to the people, not the Aggression. ..its unacceptable. They use the gun to take our human rights~


Such cowards are the IDF soldiers. I will never forget that picture of a grown IDF soldier wrestling down a small child with his face under a mask. And Hillary Clinton gives praise to Israel. She is sick in the head, just as I've said. She is morally sick and putting a two-faced liars face on the face of America.
We all can take some solus, in the fact, that time will not make Netanyahu innocent of the war crimes, nor Israel. Justice is going to catch up, even with the soldiers, whose faces they try, so hard, to hide. I can see the Israeli soldiers as Morlocks, from H G Wells, TheTime Machine. And the Proud Palestinians, PROTESTING AND FIGHTING BACK, with nothing that can really hurt Israel, except the conscious awakening of world opinion. The UN has officially ACKNOWLEDGED THE RIGHT OF PALESTINIANS TO RESIST. It's so sad that they must pay with their lives just for protesting or describing Israels heinous crimes against them. They live in an open air prison where Israel controls even their daily calories and whether they live behind bars or walls.

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.