Volunteers’ group targets Facebook for suppressing Palestinian content

Social media applications "Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp" are displayed on a smart phone screen on 4 October 2021 [Erçin Ertürk/Anadolu Agency]
Social media applications ‘Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp’ are displayed on a smartphone screen on 4 October 2021 

A Palestinian group of volunteers that monitors Facebook has raised an alarm that the social media platform was increasingly blocking and suppressing the content posted by Palestinian journalists, activists and influencers, Anadolu News Agency reports.

In a report, the volunteers’ group, Sada Social, has mentioned that Facebook had limited the reach of the accounts of the Palestinian influencers recently when they were highlighting the issues of Shaikh Jarrah neighbourhood and Gaza Strip.

According to the statistics issued by the group, Facebook had banned the users from reaching the hashtag “Al-Aqsa” in 2021, where many activists were writing about the events happening in Palestine.

“Facebook and Instagram had blocked as many as 1,500 posts in 2021. Almost 44 per cent of posts were posted by journalists and authentic media institutions,” said Iyad Refai, a social media specialist and the Director of Sada Social.

He said that access to the accounts that covered the incidents was restricted through algorithms that identify the digital content, adding that new words were added to expand the restrictive practices.

Tunisia: man arrested for ‘insulting’ president on social media

Facebook catches the words like “to support the Palestine cause” and other words like these, and then blocks the account. In addition, the restrictive practices have been expanded to the names of Palestinian factions, leaders, or martyrs, in addition to any pictures or videos related to this.

“After each violation, we contact Facebook to clarify that we have the right to tell our story. All the discussions with them are about the importance to have a clear and certain adoption of standards of the concepts about violence and hatred since Facebook policies do not follow the UN standards about violence and hatred,” said Refai.

In its annual statement, Sada Social said, in contrast to the efforts of defenders of the right to free expression and a sense of security in digital space, in 2021 there was a growing tendency to impose coercive powers on people’s practices in digital space.

Refai emphasised that, despite repeated calls to Facebook to put an end to the bias shown against the Palestinian content, there has been an increase in attacks on media platforms during the coverage of the recent war and events in Jerusalem. Palestinian news pages like Maydan Al Quds were finally pulled down last year in November.

“It is a US company and US law defines the Palestinian struggle as acts of terrorism,” he added.

According to the annual statistics released by the Sada Social, more than 390 Palestinians were detained by the Israeli forces and exposed to interrogation because of highlighting issues related to Palestine on Facebook.

Is Facebook censoring Palestine? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
Is Facebook censoring Palestine? – Cartoon 

READ: Israeli firm develops facial recognition technology for soldiers

(Source / 05.02.2022)

Choosing Mahmoud Abbas successor will trigger struggle, report says

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on May 25, 2021 in the West Bank city of Ramallah [ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on May 25, 2021 in the West Bank city of Ramallah

Israeli journalist Nadav Shragai expects that choosing a successor to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas will trigger a fierce struggle among Palestinians.

In a lengthy report published by Israel Hayom on Friday based on the interview with Pinhas Inbari, who has been researching and documenting Palestinian society for the past 50 years, Shragai shared that there are several anticipated successors to Abbas.

Two likely candidates close to the PA president are Majid Faraj, head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service, and Hussein Al-Sheikh, the PA’s civil affairs minister.

According to Inbari, Shragai said that these two men: “May be strong in the media, and for the moment they are benefiting from the support provided by Abbas, but on the ground, they are not they are not so strong.”

The Israeli journalist reported Inbari indicating: “From the point of view of the Israeli defence establishment the possibility that the two will act together as Abass’s heirs following the departure of the Rais – who is now 86 and suffers from ill health – is the optimal scenario.”

Both attended Abbas’s meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Shragai noted that the US had granted Faraj an award for information he handed over, which led to the capture of a senior Al-Qaeda operative.

Read: Polls’ postponement deepens crisis in Palestinian political system

“Recent months have seen a major development with Abbas beginning to divide up the pie of power among his confidantes, and he has promoted Faraj and Sheikh ahead of the day when he descends from the political stage and hands over his powers,” Shragai reported PA sources saying.

Meanwhile, Shragai said that Mohammed Dahlan, whom Abbas dismissed from Fatah: “Has been buying himself – literally – influence in the refugee camps in the West Bank and Lebanon for years.”

He claimed: “Dahlan’s money serves primarily to buy arms and, in that way, he has succeeded in building up power bases in Jenin, in the Balata refugee camp, the Qalandia refugee camp near Jerusalem, the Al Am’ari camp near Ramallah, and elsewhere in the West Bank.”

At the same time, he reported Inbari explaining: “There will be a civil war here. Sometimes I feel sorry for the Palestinian security officers, everybody who was involved in the shedding of Palestinian blood… They [Palestinians] are waiting for the right moment to eliminate these people.” Shragai referred to incidents in Jenin that happened last November when PA security failed to crack down on Jenin fighters.

Shragai also noted that Marwan Barghouti is another strong possible heir, pointing out that he: “Has enormous influence over the goings-on in Israeli jails and security sources believe that the inheritance battles over the inheritance will also impact the situation inside the prisons.”

He noted: “It is possible that against such a backdrop, we will see strikes, riots, and various protests by the prisoners.”

At the same time, Shragai shared that “Hamas is not sitting idly by either,” noting that Hamas insisted that Barghouti be among the prisoners to be released in a prisoner swap with Israel.

Shragai reported Inbari concluding that “the gun will talk” in the battle to choose the PA president’s successor.

Read: The PA views Palestine through the lens of collaboration and Israel’s security

(Source / 05.02.2022)

Israel settlers pollute spring water in West Bank

Israeli forces protect illegal settlers who were disrupting anti-apartheid activists' planting olive trees near the village of Burin, West Bank, 04 February 2022 [Issam Rimawi / Anadolu Agency]
Israeli forces protect illegal settlers who were disrupting anti-apartheid activists’ planting olive trees near the village of Burin, West Bank, 04 February 2022

Israeli settlers on Friday intentionally polluted the water of a spring in the West Bank village of Qaryout, north of Nablus, Anadolu Agency reported.

“The settlers raided the area, broke the lock of the water spring, damaged the fence around it and poured unknown material with a dirty smell in the water,” activist Bashar Al-Qaryouti confirmed.

He added: “They did so to turn the water unsafe for drinking or farming.”

The activist said that the village residents renovated the facility around the spring and carried out a farming project in the surrounding lands to protect it from settlers.

“The residents are trying to refine the water and afford 24/7 guarding shifts for it,” the activist said, noting that these efforts aim to prevent future attacks on the spring.

(Source / 05.02.2022)

Austria Agrees to Contribute One Million Euros to UNRWA

The Austrian government signed, on Thursday, a treaty with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for the amount of one million euros ($1,144,995.00 USD), in response to the emergency appeal, the UN Agency announced.

This honorable contribution will be used to relieve the critical humanitarian catastrophe for Palestinian refugees in the besieged Gaza Strip, which has deteriorated over the course of 2021.

The 16 year long blockade imposed by the occupation restricting the freedom of movement of people, and the limitation of imports and exports into and out of the region greatly frustrates the socio-economic potential.

The 11 days of brutal Israeli aggression in May of 2021 in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic have intensified the crisis.

The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip, at the end of 2021 was an estimated 50%, which has led to a deterioration in social and economic circumstances, leading to a mental health emergency.

UNRWA will use these generous contributions from the Austrian government to provide Palestinian refugees in Gaza with humanitarian services which will include emergency food aid, mental health and social support services.

The agreement was signed in East Jerusalem by the Austrian representative in Ramallah, Astrid Wein, who recognized the demand for humanitarian relief in the Gaza Strip.

“Austria reaffirms its full and continued support to UNRWA; this contribution to the 2022 Emergency Appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory will enable UNRWA to continue to provide food assistance to 1.2 million Palestine refugees in West Bank and Gaza, and equally important to provide and mainstream mental health and psychosocial support within its services. These interventions are urgently needed to strengthen the resilience of Palestine refugees, especially after the May 2021 Gaza war and hostilities in the West Bank, which have caused not only humanitarian crises, but also socio-economic de-development and trauma.”

~ Austrian representative in Ramallah, Astrid Wein

“I commend Austria for this generous contribution and for its increasing support to UNRWA. I am pleased to see the Agency’s relationship with Austria expand in size and scope and hope for an even stronger partnership in the coming years.”

~ UNRWA Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini

(Source / 05.02.2022)

Israel To Demolish Home Of Imprisoned Palestinian Near Jenin

The Israeli occupation authorities have decided to demolish the home of a Palestinian detainee accused of killing an Israeli colonialist settler near Jenin in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) said the initial demolition order to demolish the family home of Mahmoud Ghaleb Jaradat in Silat al-Harithiya town, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, was issued last month.

The PPS added that the Center for the Defense of the Individual -HaMoked, an Israeli-based Human Rights organization, filed an appeal against the demotion; however, an Israeli court denied it.

As a result, Israel decided that the demolition would occur next Thursday.

The Israeli army claims that Jaradat fatally shot an Israeli colonist, identified as Yehuda Dimantman, 20, and injured another in a shooting attack in Mid-December of 2021, near Homesh evacuated illegal colony near Nablus in northern West Bank.

The policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians accused or even convicted of attacking Israeli colonizers or soldiers is an act of collective punishment, illegal under International Law and the various international resolutions.

“The people who bear the brunt of the [punitive] demolitions are relatives – including women, the elderly, and children – whom Israel does not suspect of involvement in any offense.” – B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group.

It is worth mentioning that in the same month of December, Israeli soldiers killed four Palestinians, including a child, in the occupied West Bank.

On December 12, 2021, the soldiers killed Jamil Mohammad al-Kayyal, 31, after the army invaded Nablus.

On December 10, 2021, the soldiers killed Jamil Abu Ayyash, 31, during the weekly protest against the illegal Israeli colonies in Beita town, southeast of Nablus.

On December 6, 2021, the soldiers killed a child, Mohammad Nidal Younis, 15, at a military roadblock near Tulkarem, in the northern part of the West Bank, after the army claimed he intentionally rammed his car into the roadblock.

On December 04, 2021, the soldiers Mohammad Shawkat Salima, 25, after he stabbed an Israeli settler in occupied Jerusalem, in the West Bank.

(Source / 05.02.2022)

Army Abducts Three Palestinians From Jenin

Israeli soldiers abducted three Palestinians from the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin earlier Saturday and on Friday evening.

The Jenin office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers invaded, earlier Saturday, the town of Anza, south of Jenin, before storming and searching several homes, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.

The PPS added that the soldiers abducted two young men during the invasions of homes, identified as Ezzeddin Ziad Sadaqa and Qussai Ma’moun al-‘Amour.

In addition, Montaser Sammour, the head of the Jenin office of the PPS, stated that the soldiers abducted another young man, identified as Yousef Faisal Bazour, from Burqin town west of Jenin, while crossing the al-Hamra military roadblock near Tubas, in northeastern West Bank.

(Source / 05.02.2022)

Israeli Soldiers Injure Many Palestinians, South of Jenin

Israeli soldiers injured, on Friday evening, many Palestinians during protests that took place when the army invaded Ya’bad town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, in addition to causing damage to two cars.

Media sources in Jenin said the soldiers invaded the Schools’ neighborhood in Ya’bad, leading to protests before the soldiers fired a barrage of gas bombs and concussion grenades.

They added that many Palestinians suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation, and several others sustained cuts and bruises.

Furthermore, the speeding Israeli military jeeps rammed into two Palestinian cars, including one owned by a man from the Kafrit nearby village, causing damage.

Earlier Saturday and Friday evening, the soldiers abducted three Palestinians from the Jenin governorate.

The Jenin office of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) has reported that the soldiers abducted two young men during the invasions of homes, identified as Ezzeddin Ziad Sadaqa and Qussai Ma’moun al-‘Amour.

Montaser Sammour, the head of the Jenin office of the PPS, stated that the soldiers abducted another young man, identified as Yousef Faisal Bazour, from Burqin town west of Jenin, while crossing the al-Hamra military roadblock near Tubas, in northeastern West Bank.

(Source / 05.02.2022)

Residents of Sheikh Jarrah thwart Settlers’ Attempt to Burn their Vehicles

Last night, the residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood from the occupied city of Jerusalem thwarted an attempt by a settler to burn their vehicles.

Eyewitnesses reported that a settler tried to burn citizens’ vehicles in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, east of occupied Jerusalem, but the vigilance of the neighborhood’s youth prevented this, after they discovered a strange movement of a settler that they followed and were able to thwart his plan.

The people of Sheikh Jarrah are suffering from the settlers’ attacks, who took over houses in the neighborhood, and are still trying to take over others.

(Source / 05.02.2022)