#Palestine: Violations of Palestinian Digital Rights in 2021


The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media (7amleh), 2022-01-10

1,033 violations of Palestinian digital
rights on social media platforms

Development and use of surveillance and spyware technologies by Israeli authorities against Palestinians

Use of technologies to hack the mobile phones of Palestinian citizens by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas

7amleh – the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media released on Tuesday, 11 January 2022, its seventh annual report “Hashtag Palestine,” illuminating the digital rights violations of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian advocates online, at the hands of the three authorities as well as different social media companies in relation to the escalations and developments on the ground. 

The report, in its seventh edition, shows the continuation and escalation in Israeli violations of Palestinian digital rights. According to the report, use of surveillance technologies significantly increased, evident in the proposal of an Israeli law to allow the use of facial-recognition cameras in public spaces. Similarly, a former Israeli officer revealed organised efforts to spy on Palestinian phone calls, indicating the Israeli authorities’ ability to access all calls conducted between Palestinians. Furthermore, the Israeli manufactured “Pegasus” spyware, developed by the Israeli “NSO Group,” was identified on the phones of 6 Palestinian human rights defenders and workers in Palestinian rights organisations and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Additionally, in line with the Israeli authorities’ efforts to restrict Palestinian content online, the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation recently approved the first draft of the “Facebook Law,” which would allow the Israeli Public Prosecution to refer to the Israeli courts to issue binding decisions to remove any content online, which would have serious repercussions on Palestinian digital rights.

As for Israeli incitement online, the “Hashtag Palestine 2021” report illustrates the continuation of Israeli incitement, both official and unofficial, against Palestinians in the media and on social media platforms. According to the “Index of Racism and Incitement” issued by 7amleh in June, incitement in Hebrew against Arabs and Palestinians increased by 15 times during the aggression on the Gaza Strip and the events of May 2021, compared to the same period in 2020.

Regarding the Palestinian Authority and De-Facto Authority of the Gaza Strip (Hamas), violations came as part of a larger assault on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The report presents cases of arbitrary detention, summonses on the basis of political activity, and even smear and extortion campaigns on similar grounds. The situation also remains critical in the occupied territory regarding privacy and data protection, as the above authorities continue to infringe the privacy of users, especially in the absence of legislation enshrining the right to privacy and data protection, and in light of the Israeli authorities’ control over the information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in the occupied Palestinian Territory.

At the level of technology companies, the events of May 2021 perhaps best highlighted the extent of censorship of Palestinian human rights and political content, as well as critiques of Israeli violations against the Palestinians. Social media platforms increased censorship of Palestinian content, and in less than two weeks, deleted, suspended and restricted hundreds of posts related to Palestine. 7amleh documented more than 1,000 violations across different platforms, with Facebook and Instagram atop the list of the most violating platforms, the report said. 7amleh also reported that Twitter and Tik Tok were more responsive to reports of violations by the center than Meta.

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Born of war: How a Palestinian woman responds to trauma through art

Malak Mattar was 13 and living under Israeli bombardment in Gaza when she decided to direct her ‘negative energy’ into painting

Indlieb Farazi Saber, Middle East Eye, 5 January 2022

December 12, 2021
Online Film: To Treat Kids Like Me in Gaza

Screening & discussion
Sun, Dec 12, 2021, 1:00 PM CST

With severe medicine shortages and an overstretched health care system in Gaza, children in need of medical treatments can only find them outside the strip. Yet Israel’s convoluted, arbitrary permit process leaves them waiting in pain, often missing life-saving care. To Treat Kids Like Me (produced by Donkeysaddle Projects and +972 Magazine) follows the family of Mohamed Saleh and several other children in the Gaza Strip as they navigate the often Kafkaesqe process of getting permission from the Israeli army to leave the besieged strip for medical treatments that are unavailable there.

The 5th offering in DSP’s Freedom Film Series will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Jen Marlowe and special guests:

  • Ghada Majadli: Director of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel department for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT); featured in To Treat Kids Like Me.
  • Mohamed Lafi: Public health professional working for the World Health Organization in the OPT, with a focus on access to health care for patients who need to seek care outside the OPT.
  • Fadi Abu Shammalah: Manager of Donkeysaddle’s Palestine Grassroots Distribution Project; has been DSP’s on-the-ground support for Mohamad Salah (who is featured in To Treat Kids Like Me)
  • Miranda Cleland: Communications Manager for Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP). DCIP documents cases like Mohamed’s where Israeli forces kill or injure Palestinian children.
  • Tickets by donation. 50% of ticket proceeds go to Palestine Grassroots Distribution Project, including Mohamad Salah’s medical care.

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    November 18, 2021
    UN World Children’s Day Webinar

    6:30 pm – 8:00 pm Greenwich, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm Central

    The Children of Gaza: Register now!

    Palestine Solidarity Campaign, The Hands Up Project and the National Education Union are thrilled to bring you this interactive webinar live from Gaza to mark UN World Children’s Day.

    Featuring a live bilingual reading from Gazan artist Malak Mattar’s brand new children’s book Grandma’s Bird, we will be joined by Malak on the night along with Palestinian writer Haneen Jadalla who worked on the Arabic text of the book.

    The book reflects the artist’s experiences of childhood in Palestine and tells the story of her beginnings as an artist during Israel’s 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip which killed over 2000 Palestinians. You’ll also get a chance to buy the otherwise sold-out limited edition book through PSC on the night.

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    Legal victory against Israeli seizure of the Tahrir

    Dear friends and supporters,

    We have some major news! Finally, after 10 years, the Israeli government has settled our compensation claim for its seizure of our boat and its cargo.

    On November 4, 2011, the Tahrir, funded by grassroots donations from Canada, Australia, Belgium and Denmark, along with its cargo of some $30,000 in medical aid, was stolen by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and never delivered to our civil society partners in Gaza. A dozen people on board, including journalists, were imprisoned in Israel and eventually deported.

    In January 2012, the Canadian Boat to Gaza filed a legal claim against the Israeli military. Through diligent research, our amazing Israeli legal team established an irrefutable basis for our claim. As a result, we have received a net settlement of $185,647 CDN, about half of the Tahrir’s total costs. Although we have accepted this out-of-court settlement, it does not represent full justice for our losses, much less for those of Palestinians. Many more Palestinian boats from Gaza have been stolen and damaged by the IOF: their owners face far greater legal obstacles than we do in pursuing claims and obtaining justice.

    “This settlement is a victory for us and for the entire Freedom Flotilla movement, as well as for all organizations and individuals who contributed time and money to ending the blockade of Gaza.” said Canadian-Israeli Sandra Ruch, who was the registered owner of the Tahrir on behalf of our campaign. “Of course, the funds from this settlement will be dedicated to the ongoing actions to help achieve full freedom of movement for all Palestinians.”

    While we are not seeking donations for our campaign at this time, we ask you to support our sister campaigns in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, as well as our partners in Gaza, including We Are Not Numbers. Our other partner in Gaza, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, urgently needs solidarity now: please consider signing and sending this letter supporting them and other Palestinian civil society organizations targeted by the Israeli occupation.

    We are using a portion of this settlement towards purchasing much-needed new ambulances for Gaza. These new ambulances, which our Freedom Flotilla partners helped fund, are now en route towardsPalestine: when they arrive we will let you know.

    Thank you once again for your continued support. Together we will keep physically challenging and eventually help break the illegal blockade!

    In solidarity,
    The Canadian Boat to Gaza Steering Committee

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    House overwhelmingly approves Iron Dome funding in 420-9 vote

    Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), all of whom have been critical of Israel, voted ‘Yes’


    RASHIDA TLAIB CALLS ISRAEL AN APARTHEID STATE DURING DELIBERATIONS ON SPENDING $1 BILLION FOR ISRAELI MILITARY PROGRAM, IRON DOME. SEPT. 23, 2021. SCREENSHOT

    MICHAEL ARRIA AND PHILIP WEISS, Mondoweiss, SEPTEMBER 23, 2021

    This week House progressives were able to temporarily hold up an additional $1 billion to Israel that had been tacked onto the short-term government spending bill to replenish the country’s Iron Dome system.

    The victory ended up being short-lived, as Iron Dome spending was split into a separate vote by pro-Israel Dems and passed easily in the House. The final vote was 420-9 with 2 present.

    The funding’s removal had sparked widespread congressional backlash on both sides of the aisle. The vote seemed to catch progressive House members in disarray, as some of lawmakers associated with the funding’s initial removal ended up voting for the legislation.

    The No votes belonged to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Andre Carson (D-IN), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) , Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO).

    Not among the No votes: NY Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez voted present; while Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), all of whom have been critical of Israel, voted Yes.

    The Israeli Prime Minister thanked the House shortly after the vote:

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    Don’t fund Iron Dome

    Giving Israel $1 billion in fungible money for a weapon system will only encourage further war crimes.


    ISRAEL’S IRON DOME SYSTEM INTERCEPT ROCKETS LAUNCHED FROM THE GAZA STRIP TOWARDS ISRAEL, AS SEEN FROM GAZA STRIP, ON MAY 19, 2021. (PHOTO: BASHAR TALEB/APA IMAGES)

    STEPHEN R. SHALOM, Mondoweiss, SEPTEMBER 24, 2021

    Like Nora Berman (“I’m a leftist. Progressives’ move to strip Iron Dome from spending bill smacks of ignorance,” Forward, Sept. 22, 2021), I am a leftist. But unlike her, I think the attempt to remove Iron Dome from the spending bill was the moral thing to do.

    Let me stipulate at once that I consider intentional or reckless attacks on civilians to be war crimes, violations of international humanitarian law, and of just war principles.

    How can I oppose attacks on civilians and still support cutting funding from a program designed to protect civilians?

    The first point to note here is that money provided to the Israeli government is fungible. That is, Washington is not sending technology to Israel, but dollars, and by reducing the amount of money that Israel needs to spend on Iron Dome, we are correspondingly increasing the amount of money that Israel gets to spend on the rest of its military budget, on its attack planes, tanks, rockets, and artillery that have slain so many Palestinian civilians. (Keep in mind, that according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, in its various assaults on Gaza since 2008, Israel has killed 2,685 Palestinian civilians, while Palestinian rockets and mortars have killed 29 civilians in Israel – almost a 100:1 ratio.)

    Many point out that any government has to prioritize the protection of its citizens. But consider what the Israeli government would do if the United States did not provide $1 billion in funds for Iron Dome. It could reduce its other military spending – spending on those attack planes, etc. – by $1 billion and transfer that money to Iron Dome spending. If it did that it would provide its population with a higher level of protection while reducing its own capacity to endanger Palestinian civilians. A win-win. If it did not transfer the money, well, that suggests that protecting its own citizens might not be its top priority.

    How can we refuse to provide funding to protect civilians? Ms. Berman asks. But does this concern apply to all civilians, or only to Israeli civilians? For a lot less than $1 billion, we could protect the lives of many civilians by sending bomb shelter construction materials to Gaza, not to mention shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.

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    Rep. Mark Pocan: Iron Dome should avert need for Israeli retaliatory strikes

    Pocan, a leading figure among Israel critics in the House, organized a series of floor speeches criticizing Israel


    Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

    Marc Rod, Jewish Insider, May 20, 2021

    Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), a left-wing Democrat who has frequently been vocally critical of Israel, argued on Wednesday that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system should remove the need for it to launch its own strikes in response to terrorist rocket attacks, as it largely prevents rockets from striking Israel.

    “I’ve always supported the Iron Dome. Because the idea is when a missile comes in, if you take it out, no one’s been killed on either side, and there’s de-escalation,” Pocan, who organized an hour of speeches on the House floor criticizing Israel last week, told reporters. “If you use it for that purpose, then you still send 20 times the number of missiles back, that’s not the intention.”

    The Israeli Defense Forces have said that more than 4,000 rockets have been fired at Israel since this conflict began, most of which have been intercepted by the Iron Dome. Israel has carried out hundreds of retaliatory strikes on Hamas targets. 

    When pressed on the fact that the Iron Dome does not deal with the sources of the rocket attacks, Pocan did not address the issue directly, responding that “they should be de-escalating by doing a cease-fire.”

    “You can’t justify taking out media buildings, roads to hospitals, scores of children. This is not what this is about,” Pocan claimed. The Israeli military has accused Hamas of using “human shields” — hiding military equipment, facilities and personnel in civilian locations, including an office building which housed The Associated Press and other international media organizations.

    As part of the 2016 memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel regarding military aid, the U.S. provides $500 million per year to support missile defense efforts in Israel, including Iron Dome. Pocan and some fellow House Democrats have pushed to place additional conditions on this aid.

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