Hamas 'Qassam' Twitter account suspended

Several Israeli media organizations have cited the accounts in their reporting.

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June 20, 2016 19:56
2 minute read.
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Twitter logo. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Twitter has suspended the account of Hamas’s military wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, the most recent iteration of which was up and running just two weeks ago as @ALQassamilitary.

According to MEMRI, several of the group’s previous accounts have been blocked in the past, but they often rebounded with new ones, starting fresh each time.

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A 2014 MEMRI report, for example, said: “Since it began tweeting on November 21, 2009, Al-Qassam Brigades has used the following Twitter handles, all since shut down: @alqassambrigade; @qassambrigade; @Qassam_Arabic; @ qassamfeed; @qassamarabic; @qassamhebrew.”

Most of those have been suspended, though @qassamarabic, oddly, remains untouched, but hasn’t Tweeted in two years. Further iterations such as @qassam_arabic1, @qassam_arabic2 have come and gone, as well.

Another account purporting to belong to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, which had been active since March 2012 and amassed 314,000 followers, mysteriously deleted all its Tweets, as well, though the account remains active. An account purporting to belong to the group’s political leader Khaled Mashaal has not taken the same course.

The Hamas leadership accounts are not “verified” by Twitter. Another unverified account, @hamasinfo, which has 242,000 followers and has been around since October 2010, tweeted in Arabic last year that the Haniyeh and Mashaal accounts did not belong to the actual Hamas leaders.

Several Israeli media organizations have cited the accounts in their reporting.

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The Haniyeh account, for example, praised the Sarona shooter who murdered four Israelis earlier this month.

Officially, Twitter’s own rules ban terrorism or its promotion. Though Twitter has upped its efforts to suspend ISIS–related accounts in recent months, saying it suspended over 125,000 of them since mid-2015, some Hamas accounts remain untouched.

Many of the remaining accounts, such as @ HudanaimMP, @RawhiMushtaha, and @Badran_ husam, identify themselves as part of Hamas’s political wing.

The United States, where Twitter is based, has listed Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization since 1997.

When asked for comment, a Twitter spokesman referred The Jerusalem Post to its rules against promoting terrorism and violence and its ISIS-related actions, adding: “We don’t comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”

Earlier in June, The Jerusalem Post published an article citing security experts’ concerns that terrorist groups such as Hamas were recruiting and spreading their message unhindered on Twitter. A Post editorial on Monday urged more action from Twitter on the issue.

Last week, in response to Jerusalem Post inquiries, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she plans to deny Hamas “virtual territory” if she is elected.

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