West Bank, ALRAY - The Israeli occupation has detained over 162 Palestinians for expressing their opinion on social media since the start of the year, a human rights group has found.
The Palestine Centre for Prisoners Studies (PCPS) explained that journalists, activists, community leaders, women and children were among those detained by the Israeli occupation authorities over social media posts.
Riyad al-Ashqar, the center’s director, anticipated a surge in detentions against Palestinians after the Israeli occupation Knesset approved in a preliminary reading a draft bill imposing severe sentences against Palestinians over alleged "incitement" on social media.
Al-Ashqar accused the extremist Israeli cabinet ministers, foremost among them is Itamar Ben-Gvir, of inciting against the Palestinians who express their views on social media.
Ben-Gvir called for the detention of Mohammad Basili, a 21-year-old from occupied Jerusalem, to be extended for publishing videos supportive of resistance to the occupation on TikTok, al-Ashqar pointed out.
He demonstrated that Israeli military courts have issued fines, house arrest orders and jail terms for periods ranging between one month and one year to Palestinians over social media posts.
Some Palestinians are being held under so-called administrative detention without charge or trial over their social media posts.
Al-Ashqar pointed to the case of Samah Hijjawi, 27, from Qalqiliya, who was detained last May by the Israeli occupation army and was issued a four-month administrative detention order.
Palestinian journalist Lama Ghousha has been placed under house arrest since she was released 11 months ago after being forced by the Israeli occupation authorities to sign a pledge not to use social media.
"Detaining Palestinians over social media posts is a punitive policy used by the Israeli occupation to deter the Palestinians from expressing their opinion and detain as many Palestinians as possible in violation of all international conventions and treaties permitting people to express their views in any way they deem fit," al-Ashqar noted.
He called on the international community and human rights organisations to protect the Palestinian people's right to express their opinion without restrictions or fear of detention.