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2 Israelis found guilty of anti-Palestinian incitement by Israeli court

June 9, 2017 3:02 P.M. (Updated: June 9, 2017 6:42 P.M.)
(AFP/ Juan Mabromata, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- An Israeli court found two far-right Israelis guilty of "incitement" and sentenced one of them to community service, Israeli media reported on Friday, in a rare instance of Jewish Israelis being prosecuted for anti-Palestinian hate speech.

According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, 32-year-old Avraham Binyamin, and 44-year-old Yehoshua Hess, who were described as “senior activists” in a group called Jewish Voice, were found guilty by the Petah Tikva magistrate court of numerous acts of incitement to violence against Palestinians.

Binyamin and Hess wrote a number of posts on the website of Jewish Voice calling to “break open heads” and “throw Molotov cocktails” at Palestinians, whom they described as “violent,” “savages,” “terrorists,” and “abusers.”

The two men also wrote statements sympathizing with acts of violence against Palestinians and their property, as well as in support of violating Palestinians’ rights.

As part of a plea deal, Binyamin was sentenced to six months of community service, a suspended sentence, and a fine of an unspecified amount, Ynet added.

As a deal wasn’t reached in Hess’ case, a court will rule on a sentence at a later, unspecified date, Ynet added.

Israeli news daily Haaretz reported in April that Israeli forces detained at least 400 Palestinians in less than a year over social media activity, and that 400 others were detained for the same reason by the Palestinian Authority through its widely condemned policy of security coordination with Israel.

A more recent report by Haaretz revealed how Israel has been monitoring Palestinians’ social media profiles and subsequently making arrests when “the kid doesn’t know that he is a terrorist yet,” as one Israeli army officer put it.

By contrast, a February report released by the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement 7amleh documented that slanderous, provocative, and threatening posts made by Israelis against Arabs and Palestinians more than doubled in 2016, reaching 675,000 posts made by 60,000 Hebrew-speaking Facebook users -- “while almost not a single case of incitement has been opened against Israeli instigators.”

Suppression of Palestinian freedom of expression in recent months has also seen bookstores shuttered, while activists, journalists, novelists, and poets have been detained.

Israeli authorities’ narrative that a wave of unrest that began in October 2015 was stoked by online “incitement,” though Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for acts of violence.
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