More Arabs Than Jews Indicted for Online Incitement Amid Crackdown

Lawyers say that when it comes to Arabs, enforcement is 'speedy and focused'; when it comes to Jews, the authorities turn a blind eye.

Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer
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Facebook followers offered to come and help find “a final solution” to the problem.
Facebook followers offered to come and help find “a final solution” to the problem.Credit: Jhanganu / Dreamstime.com
Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer

On Friday, October 15, Hamas declared a day of rage. On that day an IDF soldier was moderately injured in a stabbing attack in the settlement of Kiryat Arba. That night, when things calmed down, Anas Khateeb, 19, of Shfar’am praised the terrorists in a Facebook post, writing: “Their memory will only be perpetuated by avenging their blood which is the liberation of our lands from the occupation and wiping it out. This is a promise I made myself. Most of you like me, an eye for an eye and a head for a head!”

The next day, at 4 P.M., Khateeb posted again on Facebook: “I’m on the waiting list.” A few hours later, the police arrested him and five days later he was indicted for incitement to violence and terror.

Figures obtained by Haaretz show that since the wave of terror began, the number of investigations and indictments for incitement to racism and violence has shot up: Over the past three months, 105 files were opened for these offenses (and 27 indictments issued), mostly for incitement on social media, as opposed to 50 files during the first part of 2015.

In all of 2013, only three indictments were served for incitement.

Of the files opened, 55 were against Arabs who expressed support on social media for terrorists, and although in the 50 remaining files ethnic origin was not stated in the figures, officials involved in the matter said that without doubt most of them were Arabs.

When it comes to Arabs, enforcement is “close, speedy and focused,” according to attorney Aram Mahamid of the legal rights group Adalah, who is representing Khateeb. When it comes to Jews, he said, the authorities turn a blind eye. Surfing Facebook, Mahamid says, reveals posts by Jews containing incitement, “but no indictments are served and they are not even investigated.”

A look at Facebook posts following the arson murders of the Dawabsheh family in July reveals statements by Jews such as one posted by a woman after an article in Ynet: “That baby terrorist would have grown up to be a terrorist. Sorry, sweethearts, an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth, sorry they didn’t burn your whole village.”

Another post said: “That’s not enough, there should be more whole families, without mercy, revenge for the Fogel family,” referring to the murder by terrorists of five members of a family from the settlement of Itamar in March 2011. Another post read: “Go to the village of the terrorist and douse his mother in benzene and warm up by the burned body because it’s cold at night.”

Why then do the police seem more interested in Arab posts (both in East Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs)? According to officials involved in the investigation of these files, Arab perpetrators of recent attacks have admitted that they were pushed to act by social media and so these are the cases that are given priority by the police.

However, a senior official in the State Prosecutor’s Office said: “We are completely blind to the question of the origin of those posting the status.”

Another reason that more Arabs are investigated and indicted for incitement on social media is that such incitement is less common among Jews than among Arabs, officials said. Moreover, they added, authorization to investigate Jews for incitement will be given if the post could lead to acts of violence, taking into consideration how many Facebook contacts the writer has and the number of posts of this nature.

Haaretz found that only three Jews were indicted this year for incitement on social media.

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