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Israel Targets Palestinians of 1948 With Misleading Charges as the War on Gaza Continues

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
26th February 2024
Israel Targets Palestinians of 1948 With Misleading Charges as the War on Gaza Continues
Israel launched a massive arrest campaign targeting Palestinians (Getty)

Since the beginning of the recent Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, on October 7, Israel has launched a wide campaign of arrests and punitive measures against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the territories of 1948.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, known as "1948 Palestinians," suffer from extensive restrictions and collective punishments, including arrests.

Israeli authorities claim that the detainees support resistance and incitement against Jews in posts on social media, even though the posts do not contain any incitement or support for Hamas.

The term "1948 Palestinians" refers to Palestinians who managed to remain in their lands or were displaced from their villages and cities to villages and areas within the borders declared by Israel after the 1948 war. Most of them obtained Israeli citizenship after the Citizenship Law was issued in 1952 and remained under military rule until 1966.

The 1948 Palestinians, numbering about two million people, all citizens of Israel except for a few hundred thousand in East Jerusalem, hold the status of "permanent residents," a designation that grants them fewer rights.

1948 Palestinians and Misleading Israeli Charges of Incitement and Support for “Terrorism”

Ritta Murad, a young Palestinian from the city of Nazareth, was arrested by the occupation forces following Operation Al-Aqsa Flood due to three posts she shared on her Instagram account commenting on the operation. The Israeli authorities accused her of "belonging to a terrorist organization" and "inciting terrorism."

According to a report published by The Washington Post on November 12 , the Palestinian woman was subjected to beatings during the detention period and faces a prison sentence of up to five years if convicted, under the new Israeli law.
According to the newspaper, Ritta Murad is one of at least 56 Palestinians accused of similar charges. Ritta's defense lawyer, Ahmed Masalha, stated that under normal circumstances, such posts would not even warrant a visit to the police station.

Ritta was released as part of the recent prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, despite her objections and those of her lawyer to her release in the deal due to the Israeli procedures and restrictions that would follow later.

The Washington Post, citing human rights organizations in its report, pointed out that around 100 others have been detained or held in the "zero tolerance" campaign, including one of Ritta's relatives, who posted a video on Instagram about cooking Shakshuka on October 7, accused of "celebrating the victory."

According to the newspaper, these efforts are led by the far-right Israeli Minister of Public Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, who himself has been previously convicted of incitement to racism and support for an extremist Jewish terrorist organization.

The indictment lists in Israeli law regarding incitement do not cover any charges related to hatred or incitement towards Palestinians in the 1948 territories.

As for Ben Gvir's task force, formed to address online incitement as mentioned by the newspaper, it has been expanded, and the Israeli police have been granted new powers.

Israeli forces also arrested the Palestinian artist Dalal Abu Amneh from the city of Nazareth on October 16, on charges of incitement against the occupation in a social media post. Abu Amneh's arrest was accompanied by an Israeli incitement campaign, death threats, and protests outside her home in the area of Afula.

In a post by Abu Amneh,she said, "There is no victor but God" accompanied by the Palestinian flag, which Israeli authorities deemed as incitement and support for Hamas. On October 18, the Israeli court decided to release the Palestinian artist under certain conditions, including five days of house arrest at her mother's house in Nazareth, a bail of 2500 shekels, and a prohibition from writing any posts for 45 days.

Misbar contacted Abu Amneh’s lawyer Abeer Abu Baker, who indicated that the arrest was a result of incitement on social media. She confirmed receiving a notice stating the dropping of all suspicions and acknowledgment of no criminal violations in around ten days.

Media reports at the time indicated that the incitement campaign included demands from the CEO of the Btsalmo organization, Shai Glick, for the president of the Israel Institute of Technology to expel Arab supporters of Hamas from the institute, including Dalal Abu Amneh, considering her support for the movement.

Any Post Indicating Solidarity With Civilians in Gaza Is a Threat to Israel

The Israeli authorities fabricate misleading charges alleging incitement and support for resistance when any Palestinian shares or comments on a post that may express solidarity with civilians in Gaza amid the ongoing Israeli aggression.

One such charge was directed at Palestinian activist Mohannad Taha from the village of Kabul on October 11 last year, accusing him of incitement against Israel and endangering public safety. The reason for his arrest was a post where he wrote, "My heart is with the children of Gaza," which the Israeli authorities also deemed as incitement and endangering public safety.

Lawyer Adel Dabbah commented to Arab 48 website on the extension of the detention of the young man Mohannad Taha, saying, "The Israeli police claimed to the judge that my client is active as a prominent influencer on social media networks, with his pages having nearly a million and a half followers. Thus, the publication of any image, video, or even liking his posts is considered an influence and incitement against the state. As for the post for which the police arrested Mohannad, it was simply a picture of Gaza children with the caption 'My eyes cry for the children of Gaza'."

Later on, the occupation authorities released Taha under certain conditions, including five days of house arrest, payment of a financial bail of five thousand shekels, and a prohibition from using the phone or social media for five days.
Also, the young woman, Duaa Abu Sineina, 22 years old from Jerusalem, was arrested on October 23 on charges of incitement to "terrorism."

In an interview with CNN, Abu Sineina stated that the Israeli police took her phone to examine it in search of her accounts on Facebook and TikTok. When they could not find any accounts associated with her on either platform, a police officer checked her only account on Snapchat and found no posts that could incriminate her.

Abu Sineina said, "The officer noticed that I hadn't written anything. Then they moved to my WhatsApp account. I had posted a Quranic verse, and it turned out that this was what they were looking for. They claimed that I was inciting terrorism."

She added, "The Quranic verse is 'And Allah is not unaware of what the wrongdoers do."

Sanctions Faced by Palestinians During the Israeli War on Gaza

During the first month of the Israeli war on Gaza, approximately 150 workers and around 200 male and female students were expelled from various Palestinian universities and institutes for expressing solidarity with the Gaza Strip on social media platforms. This was stated by the director of the "Equality" human rights association, Jaafar Farah, to the French news agency regarding Israeli violations against Palestinians in the occupied territories and allegations of incitement and support for "terrorism."

Furthermore, a Palestinian teacher was dismissed from a high school in the city of Tiberias until further notice for liking a post on the "Eye on Palestine" page on Instagram. In response to the teacher's dismissal, the acting mayor of Tiberias, Boaz Yosef, commented, "If she wants to teach, let her go teach in Gaza."

On February 6 of the ongoing month, Adalah presented cases of Palestinians who faced penalties during the current aggression. One of these cases involved a Palestinian student who was condemned by the disciplinary committee at Ben-Gurion University for posting a video denying certain events during the Al-Aqsa Storm operation. The committee reprimanded her and imposed forty hours of voluntary work as punishment for posting the video, claiming it "affects the feelings of students and the university and disrespects them."

However, some Israeli students protested against the punishment, considering it lenient, and demanded harsher measures, even threatening the university. As a result, an additional penalty of temporary suspension from education for a whole semester was imposed.

On February 7, the dean of the university sent a letter to the student stating, "After your condemnation by the disciplinary committee, it is not possible for you to return to your studies as if nothing had happened." He added, "I advise you not to attend classes tomorrow or in the coming days, and to continue your studies in the library or any other place you deem appropriate."

On the other hand, despite all these arrests, misleading charges, and restrictions faced by Palestinians holding Israeli citizenships, Israeli authorities claim to respect freedom of expression. On November 12, The Washington Post quoted Shlomi Abramson, the head of security at the Attorney General's office saying: "Freedom of expression and criticism will be preserved even when weapons appear."

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