Israel Wants Bail Denied to Palestinians Held for Online Incitement

So far 10 Palestinians, residents of East Jerusalem, have been indicted for inciting to terrorism and violence on Facebook.

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FILE: A Palestinian cartoon encouraging vehicular terrorist attacks against Jews.
FILE: A Palestinian cartoon encouraging vehicular terrorist attacks against Jews.Credit: Twitter

As part of a new policy, the State Prosecutor’s Office has asked the courts to remand Palestinians indicted for online incitement until the end of legal proceedings against them. So far 10 Palestinians, residents of East Jerusalem, have been indicted for inciting to terrorism and violence on Facebook.

The suspects have been accused of writing posts in praise of terrorists and encouraging attacks – as well as calling on people to carry out further terrorist attacks. In all these cases the prosecution has submitted requests to remand the accused until the end of proceedings, even though they are not charged with violent acts themselves – and despite that, in cases of Jews who have written posts considered incitement, the prosecutors have not always asked for them to be held until the end of legal proceedings.

The Jerusalem District Court rejected an appeal on Tuesday submitted by the prosecution over a court decision to release one of the accused, Muhammad Asilah, to house arrest.

“Without minimizing at all the seriousness of the acts attributed to the defendant, I am of the opinion that detention until the end of proceedings in these specific circumstances is a bit too drastic a step up,” wrote judge Zvi Segal in rejecting the request.

Segal ordered Asilah released, but with rather extraordinary conditions for his house arrest: He will be under full house arrest in his mother’s home. The house must not have any connection to the Internet and Asilah must bring confirmation of that from the communications companies. In addition, every visitor to the house must sign in at the local police station and leave their cell phone there (if it has the ability to connect to the Internet) before entering the house.

If a person is found in the home carrying a telephone with a connection to the Internet, the defendant will be arrested immediately with no possibility of bail, wrote the judge. In spite of these strict conditions, the prosecution asked for permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, though Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut rejected this request yesterday evening.

Namir Idilbi, Asilah’s lawyer, said his client was “under arrest for three months and was released to full house arrest with burdensome to impossible conditions. The state did not make do with just that, and submitted a request for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, which rejected it without a hearing since there was no justification.”

The State Prosecutor’s Office said security and law enforcement bodies have set a goal of fighting incitement in general and Internet incitement in particular. In appropriate cases, in which the accused are charged with serious violations of incitement, requests for arrest until the end of proceedings were also submitted. These cases included calls for violence and racism, and sometimes even support for acts of terror – over a long period of time, while calling for concrete acts of violence.

The prosecution said it appealed to the Supreme Court because of the novelty of the phenomenon and its scope – as well as the recognition that incitement on the Internet can lead directly to terrorist acts.

The State Prosecutor’s Office said that various courts have ruled recently on requests for detaining suspects in cases of incitement, that the high level of danger justifies arrest and detention since there is a real possibility that such publication will lead to acts of violence.

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