The video-sharing website YouTube removed from its servers Sunday a video channel operated by Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch for severe violations of YouTube’s community guidelines.

The channel, which featured videos of Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israelis, posted by the group in order to expose Arab media undercurrents, was removed for repeatedly airing hate speech.

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PMW director Itamar Marcus said he had received an automatically generated letter from YouTube informing him that the channel had been removed following complaints by YouTube users. Surfing to the PMW channel or searching YouTube for PMW videos generates a result that reads: “Palwatch has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of our Community Guidelines.”

“YouTube has removed some of our videos in the past, but closing down the site is a tremendous disservice,” said Marcus. “Some of the videos are indeed horrific. The one that got us closed down, for example, showed a farewell video made by a Hamas terrorist, in which he called on Palestinians to drink the blood of Jews. But we’re not the ones who produced it, it was broadcast first on Hamas TV in Gaza.

“After they are removed from YouTube we can re-post individual videos through other video sharing websites, but closing down the entire channel means that all the recorded views have been lost and all the blogs and websites that linked to the videos no longer work.”

Marcus said that he suspected that the complaints came from Palestinian or Arab activists who didn’t like the fact that the hateful messages were being exposed.

“These types of videos are usually only viewed in Arab society, since they are aired on Arab-language channels. They want to hide the things they only allow themselves to say amongst themselves in Arabic, but we watch it, translate it and send it around the world to decision-makers and the general public,” said Marcus.

Marcus said that he didn’t know whether anybody at YouTube was aware of the context in which the offensive videos were aired and that he hoped that once reasoned with they could return the channel, even if it meant removing particular videos.

YouTube could not be reached for a response, but the company’s website reads the following about the posting of offensive material: “We have a policy of not commenting on individual video removals. Videos may be removed from YouTube for a variety of reasons…. With 24 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, we cannot pre-screen content and operate at the scale at which we do. It would be like the telephone company pre-screening every call before allowing it to be connected.

Instead, we count on our community members, who are watching the site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to know the Community Guidelines http://www.youtube.com/t/co mmunity–guidelines> and to flag content they believe violates the rules.

“We receive thousands of flags every day. Each flagged video is reviewed quickly, and if we find that a video does violate the rules, we remove it (usually in less than an hour) and communicate with the person who uploaded the offending content. We take these violations seriously, and multiple infractions can result in a user’s suspension or permanent removal from YouTube.”

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