Israeli Security Forces Say Joint Effort to Intercept, Combat Palestinian Incitement on Social Media Beginning to Show Results
Israel’s strategy to combat incitement on social media is beginning to show results, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Monday.
The joint effort between the IDF, the Shin Bet domestic security agency and the Israel Police is having an effect – albeit a small one so far – a military source told Walla.
He was referring to the growing number of recent cases of Palestinian terrorists posting their intention to kill Jews on Facebook, right before heading out to commit an attack, a common practice that has emerged throughout the last several months of near-daily, mostly Palestinian terrorist attacks, which has come to be known in Israel as the lone-wolf or knife intifada.
The Israeli authorities have managed to monitor and intercept various Arabic social media sites, identifying different degrees of calls to violence, gathering intelligence on those who actually threaten to carry out terrorist attacks and investigating who among the web users have actually made contact with organizations or dispatchers.
In cases determined to constitute incitement to violence alone, the authorities launched a program of sending warnings to such web users that if the practice is continued, they will be arrested. This tactic has led to direct involvement between members of Israel’s security team and individual targets of investigation.
In cases estimated to be literal and figurative “ticking bombs,” the identity of the perpetrators is immediately passed on to the relevant authorities to have the person arrested and interrogated. According to Walla, in the past year, two east Jerusalem residents were tried and convicted for social media incitement, and were sentenced respectively to nine and 17 months in prison.
According to Walla, because of the very high percentage of Palestinians who use social media, and due to the wide age range of the users, the main difficulty is in identifying characteristics common to potential terrorists or key inciters. In addition, many users who claim to reside in the West Bank in fact live in Gaza or other countries.
The military source told Walla that Israel began attempting to thwart Internet incitement during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. But over the past several months, defense authorities decided to step up activity on this front, in light of the many threats, promises and expressions of martyrdom which were discovered on the pages of those who ended up killing or wounding Israelis.