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Israel prosecutes 2 Palestinians, including journalist for alleged ‘Facebook incitement’

March 20, 2017 11:51 A.M. (Updated: March 20, 2017 5:33 P.M.)
Jerusalemite journalist Muhammad Batroukh
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities prosecuted two Palestinians for alleged “Facebook incitement,” on Sunday, amid an ongoing crackdown by Israel on Palestinian freedom of expression and social media activity.

Israeli authorities issued a list of charges against Jerusalemite journalist Muhammad Batroukh, which included alleged incitement on Facebook, and extended his detention until Tuesday, Jerusalem-based organization Wadi Hilweh Information Center quoted lawyer Muhammad Mahmoud as saying.

Batroukh was detained on March 7, according to local Palestinian news site Safa.

Meanwhile, an Israeli judge sentenced Walid Rajabi to 10 months of actual imprisonment and a suspended probation sentence of seven months for three years over charges of incitement of Facebook.

Scores of Palestinians have been detained in recent months for expressing their opinions on the Israeli occupation, particularly through social media, in a crackdown that rights groups have said is aimed to stifle Palestinian freedom of speech.

Israeli authorities have claimed that a wave of violence that first erupted in October 2015 was caused largely by “incitement” among Palestinians through social media.

Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the outbreak of violence. Many Palestinians have also pointed out that Israeli violence has continued to shape everyday life in the occupied territory, regardless of any recent “upticks” in clashes or attacks.

Israeli forces detained and interrogated Palestinian writer Khalida Ghusheh earlier this month over her unpublished novel that explores Palestinian collaborators with the Israeli occupation. Ghosheh was released on a bail 10,000 shekels ($2,722) when an unspecified future court was also set, according Palestinian prisoners solidarity network Samidoun.

Israeli forces detained Palestinian poet Darin Tartour, a citizen of Israel, in October 2015 and charged her with “incitement to violence” for posts she made on Facebook and a video clip of her poem “Qawim ya shaabi, qawimhum” (Resist my people, resist them). She was facing up to eight years in prison and had already spent months in detention and house arrest.
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