Social Media Incitement, Upcoming Jewish Holidays Spurring Upswing in Palestinian Terrorism Against Israelis, Says Defense Establishment
Sunday morning’s stabbing attack in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, on the heels of five other terrorist incidents over the weekend — and a spike in social media incitement — have bolstered the Israeli defense establishment’s assessment that an escalation in Palestinian violence can be expected ahead of the Jewish High Holidays next month, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
Examples provided by the news outlet included Twitter and Facebook calls by Palestinians — posted over the last few days — to: “Stab forcefully, in order to defend your honor;” “Attack with Molotov cocktails;” and “Burn the Zionist with fire.”
In an interview with Channel 2 on Friday evening, Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan – who, as reported by The Algemeiner, recently met with visiting Facebook executives to discuss how to prevent and combat such postings — commented on the phenomenon.
“Towards the holidays, a time when Jews visit holy sites in Jerusalem, the level of Palestinian incitement is likely to increase,” Erdan said.
Nevertheless, asserted Erdan, “There has been a drastic decrease in the number of attacks. Israel is a leader in confronting terrorism and has succeeded in quashing the current wave.”
In an interview with The Algemeiner last week, however, attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat HaDin-The Israel Law Center — which spearheaded a $1 billion suit against Facebook for enabling incitement to murder on its pages — scoffed at the suggestion that Erdan’s meeting with the social media giant’s execs was fruitful. “It is nothing more than the usual public-relations stunt,” she said.
Where legal efforts within Israel to combat the phenomenon are concerned, according to the Hebrew news site nrg, an indictment was filed on Friday against Khaled Ibrahim Muwasi, a 20-year-old resident of the northern Arab-Israeli town of I’billin, for committing illegal acts of incitement to violence/terrorism and racism — and for expressing allegiance with a terrorist organization.
According to the indictment, Muwasi posted support for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, on his Instagram and Facebook accounts. It also emerged that, following the brutal June 30 murder of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her Kiryat Arba bedroom – and, a few hours later, after two Israelis were wounded in a stabbing attack at the outdoor market in Netanya – Muwasi wrote two consecutive Facebook posts lauding the killings.
“Apparently, the wave of stabbing attacks has resumed, the second in less than 24 hours!” he wrote. In another post, he said: “For your attention regarding the attack in Hebron today and an answer to the condemnation of the murder of the young Jewess and the martyr who killed her [17-year-old Mohammed Nasser Tarayra]: in a medical-scientific way, the cancer [of Jewish presence] must be treated chemically or surgically removed at its early-detection stage. As it grows and metastasizes, it becomes harder to eradicate before destroying the body.”
Muwasi continued: “It is also crucial to eliminate the Zionist child before he grows up and kills our children and adults, destroys our homes and turns our women into widows. We must remove and be cured of him…”
According to nrg, after the (so far) six terrorist attacks that took place over the weekend — more than the entire month of August — the IDF is gearing up to confront what is likely to be a wave of such incidents in the lead up to the Jewish holidays, which begin the evening of Oct. 2, and following the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha — the “Festival of the Sacrifice,” which ended on Thursday.
The attacks in question, beginning on Friday, were: an attempted stabbing at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem; an attempted car-ramming attack at the entrance to Kiryat Arba; a rock attack on an Egged bus driver; two separate stabbings of IDF soldiers in Hebron; and — as The Algemeiner reported — Sunday morning’s wounding of an IDF reservist in Efrat.
According to nrg, this was an aberration in what the IDF has characterized as a “lull” in the daily attacks that began on the eve of Rosh Hashanah last year. For example, in August, a total of four terrorist attacks – two of them stabbings — took place. And during April and June, there were only three stabbing attacks, while in May there were none. During the past year, said nrg, there were 196 terrorist incidents in the West bank – including car-rammings and stabbings – and 229 throughout the country as a whole.
According to Channel 2, as a result of the wave of terrorist attacks over the weekend, the IDF has decided to reinforce its presence in the West Bank, particularly in the Hebron area — where the bulk of attacks took place.