Creating new perspectives since 2009

Hamas slams Facebook for blocking Palestinian activists' accounts

January 8, 2017 at 2:51 pm

Hamas yesterday slammed Facebook after the social networking site blocked dozens of accounts and pages in support of the movement.

The movement’s spokesperson, Husam Badran, said in a statement that Facebook had closed more than 90 pages supporting Hamas, in addition to 30 personal accounts affiliated with the movement.

“This vicious campaign came after the launching of the 21st anniversary of the assassination of the first engineer of the Izz Ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Yahya Ayyash,” Badran said in the statement.

Yahya Ayyash was assassinated in 1996 during the administration of Shimon Peres after Israeli authorities suspected him of being behind a number of suicide attacks against Israelis. He is known among Hamas supporters as “The Engineer”, as the group has said he was the first member to manufacture a bomb for the movement.

As part of events to mark the anniversary of his assassination, Hamas supporters launched a campaign promoting the actions of Ayyash, and adopted the slogan “Be Like Ayyash”, prompting Facebook to shut down more than a hundred pages and accounts.

Badran described the closure of Hamas’ support pages as a “persistent collusion of the Facebook administration with Israeli occupation policies,” and urged Palestinian Facebook users to look for other, more efficient, alternatives.

Palestinians have often pointed out the double standard they believe exists among Israeli authorities’ demands that Facebook remove scores of content that have been deemed “incitement,” as the Israeli Knesset, Israel’s parliament, has advanced the so-called “Facebook bill”, which would allow Israeli officials to force the social media giant to remove certain content through a court order if there are suspicions of incitement.

Meanwhile, ultra-right Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who proposed the bill alongside Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, has herself used Facebook in the past to advocate for the killing of the mothers of slain Palestinians, referring to them as “snakes”.

However, despite routine claims of Israelis, including senior-level Israeli officials, inciting violence against Palestinians over social media, Israel has continued to blame Facebook for not doing more to censor posts by Palestinians seen as promoting “terrorism” against Israelis.

In July, an Israeli lawyer filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook Inc., claiming that the social media platform allowed members of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to plan and carry out attacks against Americans and Israelis.

These allegations came despite Facebook complying with 95 percent of the Israeli government’s removal requests in recent months.