Facebook, Instagram y Twitter they would be silencing the protests against the violent eviction of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in East jerusalem, by the Israeli police and settlers. This has been denounced by a group formed by various organizations in defense of the human rights and digital. “The scale of these content removals and account suspensions reported by users and documented by digital rights organizations is egregious and steep,” they state.
The attempt to evict Palestinian families from their homes set fire to the protest in Jerusalem on Friday. Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated against this decision – also denounced by multiple international organizations – but the harsh repression from policeman It has already caused more than 300 injuries, seven of which are in critical condition. After this attempt to silence the protest in the streets, the social media they were filled with images documenting police abuse and the Israeli settler violence, from the tear gas irruption in the Alaqsa mosque, the third holy place in the city, to the run over of protesters.
However, hundreds of messages critical of the violence carried out by the Israeli security forces disappeared, raising the suspicions of activists. “Content removed and accounts suspended is documenting and exposing Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and persecution ”, they assure in a statement. “These violations are not limited to Palestinian users, but also affect activists around the world who use social media to raise awareness of the dire situation in Sheikh Jarrah.”
The complaint is documented and signed by 7amleh, Access Now, ARTICLE 19, Mnemonic, SMEX, INSMnetwork – Iraq, Pen Iraq, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. These organizations have compiled hundreds of examples of that censorship.
Facebook recognizes the deletion of content
Following a growing barrage of criticism from Palestinian citizens and activists around the world, Facebook has acknowledged its role in silencing the protests, but without accepting any responsibility. “We learned that the hashtags (about police repression) were restricted by mistake,” explained a spokesperson for the platform to ‘The National’.
Investigators have documented the removal of content critical of Israel, the suspension of accounts, the use of graphic warning labels on such content, and the blocking of live video broadcasts from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Facebook has denied that its blocking of information about the protest was after the intervention of the ultra-conservative government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Between 2016 and 2018, the number of requests from the digital unit of the Israeli Ministry of Justice – which monitors all Palestinian activity – to remove content from the networks soared by 600%, from 2,241 requests to 14,283. Facebook has accepted 90% of those requests.
Just a year ago, Facebook signed the person in charge of blocking Palestinian complaints. Emi Palmor, the general director of Israel’s Ministry of Justice from 2014-2019, sits on the social network’s oversight board, which gives non-binding advice on content moderation.
Despite this blockade, international criticism of Israel for its abuses against the Palestinian population is growing. “Israel cannot impose its own set of laws in the occupied territory to evict Palestinians from their homes,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced in a statement. civilian population of an occupying power to the territory it occupies may constitute a war crime“.
The Supreme Court of Israel has postponed the hearing scheduled for this Monday in which it had to decide on the eviction of these Palestinian families. Protests over the repression continue.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.