An Arab Israeli attorney who is on the defense team of an alleged teenaged Palestinian terrorist was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of publishing inciting material on Facebook.
Jerusalem District Police confirmed Wednesday that Tareq Barghout, a criminal defense attorney with offices in Jerusalem, had been taken in for questioning and subsequently arrested.
In a Wednesday hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, police said Barghout had posted messages on Facebook praising terrorists and encouraging further attacks. They requested for Barghout to be held under house arrest for five days and prevented from using social media for more than 3 years.
Barghout is known for defending a number of Palestinian suspects, among them 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra, who is charged with stabbing and seriously wounding two Israeli youths in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Jerusalem in October.
Joint (Arab) List MK Osama Sa’adi called the arrest “arbitrary” and dangerous. “We are looking at a dangerous precedent and a slippery slope, dangerous and antidemocratic,” Sa’adi told the Hebrew-language NRG website.
He branded the incident an act of persecution against “a young, energetic attorney who on more than one occasion embarrassed the police and security services in the courts, and for this he was marked — and not for any particular [Facebook] status. There is no rationale for attorney Barghout’s arrest, and he must be released immediately.”
Incitement to violence through social media networks has been cited as a major cause of the recent lone wolf-style violence prevalent in the current wave of terror against Israelis, in which spontaneous attacks have been carried out by individual Palestinians — most of them young adults or teenagers.
In October, 20,000 Israelis signed onto a class-action lawsuit against Facebook for ignoring Palestinian incitement to violence against Israelis, in the wake of a large number of anti-Israel groups on the site.
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Richard Lakin, died the week the lawsuit was filed, having been shot and stabbed by Palestinian terrorists while riding on a Jerusalem bus two weeks earlier. The Lakin family blames Palestinian incitement online for his death.