Dozens of Arab citizens of Israel have been arrested in connection with social media posts about the war in Gaza.
Among them is a well-known singer and influencer from Nazareth, Dalal Abu Amneh, who was held in police custody for two days before being released on Wednesday on bail. She’s now under house arrest until Monday.
According to her lawyer, Abeer Baker, she was accused of “disruptive behaviour” by police officers, who said her posts could incite violence among her followers.
The post that attracted police attention was an image of the Palestinian flag with the Arabic motto: “There is no victor but God.”
Ms Baker says the singer, who is well known across the Arab world for her songs about Palestinian heritage, was expressing a religious sentiment. Israeli authorities interpreted the singer’s post as a call to arms for Palestinians.
Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, police in Israel have adopted what they call a “zero tolerance policy” towards social media activity deemed to express support for Hamas, an Islamist group which is committed to the destruction of Israel and designated as a terrorist group by Israel, as well as the US, UK, and many other countries.
Ms Abu Amneh is one of dozens of Arab citizens of Israel arrested in connection with social media posts about the war.
Many others have been suspended or sacked from their jobs or face disciplinary action from their universities.
Israeli Arabs – many of whom prefer to be called Palestinian citizens of Israel – make up a fifth of the country’s population.
Since Hamas’s attack, police say they have investigated and detained more than 100 people for their social media activity. Sixty-three have been arrested and questioned in Jerusalem alone.
“Anyone inciting against the State of Israel, its government symbols, elected officials, military personnel and police, should be aware that the Israel Police will respond firmly and without leniency,” said Israel’s Police Commissioner, Yaakov Shabtai, at a meeting with senior leaders this week.
Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, believes the number of detained is higher as more arrests have been made recently.
By comparison, during the Israel-Gaza conflict in May 2021, only 16 people – 15 of whom were Arab – were charged with inciting violence, according to a report released by Adalah.
Human rights activists worry this spike in detentions is due to the police adopting a wider interpretation of what constitutes incitement to violence.
In the Bedouin city of Rahat, for example, police have detained a former mayoral candidate, Dr Amer al-Huzail, who shared on social media a map of the Gaza Strip with an analysis of possible scenarios for an expected ground operation by Israeli forces.
This has led him to be accused of aiding the enemy in a time of war.
Source : BBC