East Jerusalem Palestinian Gets Prison Time for Facebook Incitement

Obeidah Tawil confesses to incitement to violence and terrorism in plea bargain. Among other items, Tawil expressed support for car ramming and his hope that when his son grows up he will decapitate people 'and not just run them over.'

Olivier Fitoussi

The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court imposed on Wednesday a one-year prison sentence on Obeidah Tawil, a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem who was convicted on counts of incitement on his Facebook page in postings he put up between the spring of 2014 and the summer of 2015.

According to the charge sheet, following a car ramming in Jerusalem in November 2014, in which a Border Police officer was killed and others were injured, Tawil posted on his Facebook page support for the perpetrator, saying “O Salman, run over more and more”. He also wrote, in an accompanying video clip in which his son could be seen, that “with the help of God, when you grow up, my son, you will chop their heads off and not just run them over.”

The prosecution also charged that two days before the beginning of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Tawil wrote: “O West Bank, either you wake up and arise or you will be trampled on for another 20 years”. He received 35 “likes” and one response. He further wrote that “tonight the Ras al-Amud neighborhood [of East Jerusalem] is a battlefront. God, make it a spearhead of the opposition.” For this he received 31 “likes” and one response. 

The charge sheet also included a photo of an armed masked man with the symbol of the military wing of Hamas, which the accused converted into a profile photo, as well as video clips that the accused man posted, showing Hamas training sessions and processions.

As part of a plea bargain, Tawil confessed to three charges of incitement to violence or terrorism and to nine charges of supporting a terrorist organization. According to the prosecution, Tawil was a Facebook “pillar,” with 1,700 friends. Over the last year, as tension increased, he put up further postings supporting violence and terrorists.

Justice Eitan Kornhauser wrote in his ruling: “Incitement to violence and supporting a terrorist organization harm public security and safety, in that it provides fertile ground that fosters the growth and implementation of terrorist activity."

The judge wrote that the fact that such online transgressions have not been dealt with up to now can somewhat mitigate the penalty. Tawil has a previous record and was jailed for being a member of a terrorist organization as well as for other security offenses. In addition to one year in jail, he was given a six months’ suspended sentence.