Israel Is Detaining Palestinians Over Facebook Posts

Beautician Majd Yousef Atwan joins the ranks of an estimated 150 Palestinians who have been arrested over Facebook posts since October.

A 22-year-old Palestinian beautician was jailed by Israelis after she wrote a comment on Facebook.

Makeup artist Majd Yousef Atwan, a resident of Bethlehem, was sentenced to 45 days of prison for incitement charges on Monday. An Israeli Ofer military court also ordered her to pay 3,000 shekels ($800) in fines for praising a recent bus bombing in Jerusalem that injured 20 people.

The post led to a series of interrogations at Jerusalem's Russian Compound, a notorious police facility that is akin to Guantanamo Bay for the Palestinian people. 

Tareq Barghouti, Atwan’s lawyer, said the Israeli military had been monitoring Atwan’s social media activity for two months prior to the arrest.

“My daughter is not politically active; rather, her involvements are in beauty,” her father Yousef, whose house was surrounded by a number of police jeeps at 2 a.m., said. “Did she write stuff online? Yeah, like all other Palestinians. I really don’t understand why they chose to arrest her.”

Barghouti said that just a year ago, an arrest made on the basis of social media was unheard of, but “it has become a common thing these days, and there has been a wave of arrests on these Facebook posts.”

Read More: Why Was This 12-Year-Old Girl Tried In A Military Court?

Since her arrest, Atwan, who suffers from many health issues including anemia, has been summoned to court six times.

“Your occupation to our land does not need 'incitement' for our people to revolt,” said Majd in response to the charges during her trial in the military court. “I am part of an occupied don't expect me to greet you with flowers instead of anger.”

Atwan is one of almost 150 Palestinians arrested by Israeli police for social media comments since October, according to prisoners’ rights group Addameer. Of those detained in the past year, most were held for more than three months without any charges.

Israeli authorities are now closely monitoring Palestinians' social media profiles, looking for any provocative statements on harming Israelis.

In November, 19-year-old Anas Khateeb was arrested on the same charges, even though his Facebook comments were very vague and not all violent.

Just last month, four Palestinian teenagers arrested for Facebook posts reported the incidents of inhumane violence and abuses in Israeli prisons.

Read More: Israel Wants To Fight Terrorism By Jailing 12-Year-Olds

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

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