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Israel military uses Facebook post to threaten Palestinian family in Gaza

Israeli security forces aim their gun following clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians on 6 October 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

The Israeli military used a Facebook post to threaten the home and lives of a Palestinian family in the Gaza Strip, in a move slammed by legal rights centre Adalah and human rights NGO Al Mezan.

On 10 August, Yoav Mordechai, commander of the Israeli military’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), announced on the unit’s Arabic Facebook page that two tunnels constructed by Hamas had been discovered under a mosque and apartment building in Beit Lahiya.

Via Facebook, Mordechai informed Palestinian civilians living in and around the six-story apartment building and mosque in the northern Gaza town that their lives are threatened by a potential Israeli military attack on the area. Twenty-one people live in the building in question, including 12 children.

Israeli media outlets also published aerial imagery of Palestinian Hammad’s home supplied by the Israeli military, as well as remarks made by Israel’s Southern Command chief Eyal Zamir.

Read: Israel closes Palestinian media groups in West Bank raids

Zamir “warned” that, if necessary, the apartment building could be viewed as a legitimate target of attack and that civilians living there were endangering their own lives.

Adalah notes that Zamir did not “provide any evidence or indication of the existence of tunnels under the buildings”, and that “Hammad is unaware of any tunnels under his home”.

Two days after the COGAT post on Facebook, Hammad “received a phone call from an individual who identified himself as a member of Israeli military intelligence”, who said “his life and his family’s lives were in danger as their home was marked as an Israeli military target”.

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Adalah and Al Mezan have urged COGAT commander Mordechai and Chief Military Advocate General Sharon Afek to immediately remove the social media posts threatening the Gaza family.

The two organisations also demanded that “the Israeli military halt its threats to Hammad’s home and family and the civilian population in general as attacks on civilians – as well as the threat of attack – constitute overt violations of international law.”

Adalah reports that

since the Israeli military issued its threats via Facebook and mainstream media outlets, Hammad and his family have been living in a state of constant fear with the knowledge that their home is liable to be destroyed in an Israeli attack at any given moment.

In response to the Israeli threats, “some family members have fled their home but others are unable to afford alternate housing and continue living under Israel’s ongoing threat.”

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