Israeli occupation authorities arrested 410 Palestinians, including women, children, journalists, activists and community leaders, for expressing their opinion on social media, according to a report by the Palestine Centre for Prisoners Studies (PCPS).
The report, co-authored by the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Prisoners’ Affairs, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, Addameer Association for Prisoner Care and Human Rights and the Wadi Hilweh Centre highlighted Israel’s use of a new ‘Vigilance Unit’ to monitor Palestinian social media accounts and issue recommendations to the security authorities to arrest them on the pretext that their opinions and publications call for incitement and violence.
PCPS Director, Riyad Al-Ashqar, said the Israeli courts charged the detainees with “incitement” for simply expressing their opinion on social media, including posting a picture of a martyr or merely mentioning his/her name, or issuing an invitation to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Palestinians have been sentenced to between several months and several years in jail by the occupation’s courts on charges of incitement, while some were being held under administrative detention without charge or trial.
Israeli authorities also forced detainees to sign pledges not to use social media platforms for several months, in addition to issuing financial fines and placing some under house arrest.
Al-Ashqar indicated that over the past few years, the number of Palestinians arrested for using social media platforms has increased from 145 arrests in 2018, to 184 in 2019, 220 in 2020, 390 in 2021, and 410 in 2022.