Following a months-long undercover investigation into incitement and support of terrorist activity via social media, police announced Wednesday that an Arab man from east Jerusalem was arrested Tuesday night for making multiple posts and images applauding ISIS and urging peopled to support the terrorist organization.
While details of the investigation are limited, according to Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the unidentified suspect is in his 40s.
“Police units were tracking what he was putting on Facebook to support ISIS and incite terrorism, which led to his arrest,” said Rosenfeld.
“The Israel Police will continue to actively stop incitement online, or otherwise, across the country.”
The suspect was arraigned at Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday morning, where a judge ordered his remand extended until Sunday.
In response to requests from the Israel Internet Association and Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein, Facebook agreed on Tuesday to help the association remove the profiles of users who add “Death to Jews” and “Death to Arabs” to their profile names.
After being made aware of the new phenomenon, Edelstein (Likud) wrote to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Richard Allen, Facebook’s head of policy in Europe and the Middle East, requesting that they use “all the tools at the disposal of Facebook in order to put an end to these pages” last week.
Edelstein said he was “appalled” by what he called “acts of incitement” and added, while the “Jewish part of Israeli society at times finds itself in disagreement with members of the Arab public… in the heat of an argument, we must keep to the point and respect human dignity.”
The Center for Safe Internet, part of the Israel Internet Association, also turned to Facebook with a request to help them take down the profiles.
Orna Heilinger, head of the Center for Safe Internet, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the decision is not a change in Facebook’s policy but it will make it easier to take down the profiles.
While the hateful addition to profile names is a violation of existing Facebook policies, independently reporting the name itself as offensive is not an option on Facebook.
Moreover, reports that get to Facebook have lengthy waiting periods when done individually.
Heilinger explained that it will be more efficient to have the center gather all the names and send them in to Facebook to be dealt with quickly.
“[The Center for Safe Internet] turned to Facebook in an official capacity. We alerted them to the phenomenon and we asked for their intervention,” she said.
The center will actively seek out these profiles and report them to Facebook, and encourages anyone who comes across such a profile to reach out to the center.
Edelstein welcomed Facebook’s announcement that it would assist in removing the offending profiles, and reiterated that “we cannot allow a situation in which social networks are a safe haven for inciters.”
Links to offending Facebook pages and screenshots of the profile name can be sent via email or whatsapp to the Center for Safe Internet or calls can be made to their hotline for further assistance.