Palestinian mistakenly arrested, police relied on mistranslated Facebook post

The Palestinian worker was arrested after posting a picture of himself leaning on a bulldozer at the construction site where he works.

October 22, 2017 20:13
1 minute read.


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The Israel Police mistakenly arrested a Palestinian last week because it "relied on automatic translation software to translate a post he wrote on his Facebook page," Haaretz reported Sunday.

But the man's post had already been mistranslated before it was sent to police from concerned citizens, Police Foreign Press Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post Sunday night.

The Palestinian worker was arrested after posting a picture of himself leaning on a bulldozer at the construction site where he works in a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem. The caption read "good morning" in Arabic, but Facebook directly and incorrectly translated it to "attack them" in Hebrew and "hurt them" in English. These are the translations citizens sent to police, Rosenfeld said.

The suspect was detained briefly, and, when it became clear to police a misunderstanding had occurred, he was released "immediately."

"The suspect was detained for questioning by the police following a report that was filed by civilians," Rosenfeld said. "When it became clear what was published, and there was no suspicion of incitement, the suspect was released immediately."

Police were suspicious of the post after "a number of complaints," because the translation ran alongside a picture of the man leaning on a vehicle that has been used in past terrorist attacks in Israel, and similarly-sized vehicles have been used to terrorize civilian populations abroad.

On August 4, 2014, a Palestinian man commandeered a construction excavator, mowed down and killed a pedestrian, and then overturned a bus in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Shmuel HaNavi in Jerusalem.

More recently, a terrorist drove a van into crowds in Barcelona, Spain, killing 13 people in August of 2017.

"The police will continue to examine any statements that raise suspicion of incitement on social networks and in general," Rosenfeld said.

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