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Palestinian posts make Facebook a 'monster,' Israeli minister says

Israel's public security minister has taken aim at Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook posts that he says incite violence against Israelis. "Some victim's blood" is on the hands of the Facebook founder, Gilad Erdan told Israeli television. He called the social media giant a "monster," accusing it of not doing enough to remove posts from Palestinians that incite violence against Israelis.

Social media giant accused of not doing enough to remove posts that Israel says incite violence

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, left, sits with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on April 10. Erdan is calling Facebook a 'monster.' (Associated Press)

Israel's public security minister has taken aim at Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook posts that he says incite violence against Israelis. "Some victim's blood" is on the hands of the Facebook founder, Gilad Erdan told Israeli television.

He called the social media giant  a "monster," accusing it of not doing enough to remove posts from Palestinians that incite violence against Israelis.

"Facebook, despite that they brought an amazing revolution to the world, unfortunately since … the terror wave, has turned into a monster," Erdan told Israeli television on Saturday.

Since last October, Palestinians have killed 34 Israelis and two visiting Americans, according to the Israeli foreign ministry. The wave of violence has been mostly carried out through stabbing attacks. Palestinian medical sources say more than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the same period, most of whom Israel says were assailants carrying out attacks.

The violence had ebbed somewhat, until last week when an Israeli father from a West Bank settlement was shot dead by a Palestinian while driving with his wife and two of his 10 children. A day earlier, a 13-year-old Israeli girl was stabbed to death by a Palestinian while she slept in her bed in another West Bank settlement.

The Palestinian accused of the girl's murder, 19-year-old Mohammed Tra'ayra, has praised previous attackers and declared on Facebook that he wished to die "a martyr's death," according to Israeli media reports.

In a separate post, Tra'ayra wrote that "death is a right and I demand to die."

Erdan accused Facebook of setting "a very high bar" for removing content deemed to incite violence.

"Facebook today sabotages … the work of the Israeli police, because when the Israeli police approach them, and it is regarding a resident of [the West Bank], Facebook does not co-operate," he told Channel 2 television.

Israel's government is set to propose legislation that would make it easier to take legal action to get Facebook to remove posts authorities deem to be inciting violence.

Facebook officials travelled to Israel recently for meetings with Erdan and Israel's justice minister.

'No room' for promotion of violence: Facebook

The company has not directly responded to the accusations made by Erdan, but did release a statement.

"We work regularly with safety organizations and policymakers around the world, including Israel, to ensure that people know how to make a safe use of Facebook," the statement said. "There is no room for content that promotes violence, direct threats, terrorist or hate speeches on our platform."
'Social media is playing a major role in, getting people to go out and getting people to attack,' Rafael Green of the Middle East Media Research Institute told CBC News in November 2015. (CBC)

An organization that monitors social media said it's easy to turn to Facebook or Twitter to find postings relating to the recent wave of violence.

"Social media is playing a major role in getting people to go out and getting people to attack," Rafael Green of the U.S.-based Middle East Media Research Institute told CBC News in November 2015.

"We've seen people post videos, banners, guides that instruct people, with diagrams, showing people where to stab, all kinds of advice about how to make weapons more lethal."

Palestinian leaders say attackers have acted out after living under what they call the humiliating conditions of Israeli occupation, including continued expansion of Israel's settlements. Most countries, including Canada, view settlements as illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

A spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas downplayed Israeli efforts to remove posts from Facebook.

"I hope this Israeli piracy is not going to affect and to terrorize the international community and major communications tools like Facebook into submission," said Husam Zomlot

Corrections

  • This article originally said the Middle East Media Research Institute is based in Israel. It is based in the U.S.
    Jul 07, 2016 8:05 AM ET

About the Author

Derek Stoffel

World News Editor

Derek Stoffel is a former Middle East correspondent, who covered the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and reported from Syria during the ongoing civil war. Based in Jerusalem for many years, he covered the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. He has also worked throughout Europe and the U.S., and reported on Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

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