Human Rights Watch accuses Israel, Facebook of crack down on free speech

 
Facebook is also involved in recent years in limiting incitement on its platform in the US, EU countries and elsewhere with an ongoing debate about whether it has struck the right balance.

By YONAH JEREMY BOB DECEMBER 17, 2019 10:59


OMAR SHAKIR, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director, looks up before a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in September
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)

Human Rights Watch opened a new front against the IDF’s West Bank Courts on Tuesday, alleging it uses a crack-down on incitement as an excuse to limit legitimate Palestinian criticism of “the Israeli occupation.”

While HRW and other NGOs have criticized these courts before, this report is new in that it highlights a new trend of the IDF Prosecution and Facebook aggressively confronting aspects of Palestinian activity on social media.
Facebook is also involved in recent years in limiting incitement on its platform in the US, EU countries and elsewhere with an ongoing debate about whether it has struck the right balance.

The main author of the report, Omar Shakir, told The Jerusalem Post that he recognized that Israel, and any democracy, has a theoretical right to limit incitement-directed speech.

However, the heart of the report delves into the question whether Israel has blurred the lines between legitimate criticism and incitement both on social media and in terms of the physical right to protest.

While HRW says Israel has violated the balance between protecting free speech and limiting incitement, the IDF and Israeli supporters say that the HRW report itself blurs or overlooks incitement and terror-connections by Palestinians it presents as unfairly treated by Israel.

HRW’s report quotes IDF statistics that the IDF prosecution “prosecuted 4,590 Palestinians for entering a ‘closed military zone,’ a designation it frequently attaches on the spot to protest sites, 1,704 for ‘membership and activity in an unlawful association,’ and 358 for ‘incitement’…between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2019.”

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