Facebook has restored the official account of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party, and reportedly apologized for “mistakenly” closing the page.
On Monday Facebook closed Fatah’s page, sending a message to the administrator that the page “violated Facebook’s regulations.”
However, the page, which had garnered nearly 70,000 likes, and routinely posts material that glorifies Palestinian terrorism and martyrdom, was reinstated on Tuesday.
“Facebook restored the Page and have not subsequently taken action on it. Page Admins have the ability to take down their own pages,” Facebook said in a statement to The Times of Israel, without elaborating any further. A spokesperson declined to give any further clarification.
However, on Wednesday Russia Today (RT) in Arabic published what it said was an apology by the social media company for taking down Fatah’s page.
The closing of the page “was done by mistake, and it was restored after checking the matter,” the statement published by RT said.
“We are sorry about this mistake. All pages must conform to community standards,” the statement added.
After the page was closed, the PA Ministry of Information on Tuesday denounced the move as “blind bias in favor of” Israel, in a statement published on the PA’s official news outlet Wafa.
Munir al-Jaghub, a media officer with Fatah and one of the page’s administrators, said when Facebook had originally informed him the page was closed for violating regulations, the accounts of the 12 administrators of the page were also initially suspended for 30 days.
A photo of Arafat holding a rifle that belonged to an Israeli soldier abducted in the 1980s by Palestinians in Beirut that had featured on the page was attached to the message from Facebook, Jaghub said.
ادارة الفيسبوك اغلقت صفحة حركة فتح بسبب هذه الصورة سنبقى نعتز ونفتخر بأرثنا الوطني والنضالي pic.twitter.com/pQjXPNlGzY
— حركة فتح (@fatehorg) February 27, 2017
Jaghub could not be reached by for a response to the reopening of Fatah’s page.
While Fatah party leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has routinely denounced violence, his party’s Facebook page has published dozens of posts that glorify violence against Israelis.
For example, one post in April showed a video produced by Fatah’s student movement at Birzeit University that urged Palestinians to murder Israelis and seek martyrdom by carrying out stabbing and car ramming attacks. The video shows a staged car-ramming and stabbing attack at a checkpoint near Ramallah.
In another post in April, Fatah’s Facebook listed the killing of 11,000 Israelis as one of its great achievements.
The temporary closure of Fatah’s official account follows a series of measures by Facebook to crackdown against Palestinian incitement over social media.
In January, Facebook shutdown more than 100 pages belonging or sympathetic to the Hamas terror group in control of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas responded by telling its supporters to find other social media platforms outside of Facebook.
Last April, Facebook shut down the page for the spokesperson of Hamas’s military wing the Qassam Brigades.
Israel has accused Facebook of facilitating Palestinian incitement against Israelis, especially following a wave of hundreds of attacks that began in October 2015, which security services said was fueled by online incitement.
In January, the so-called Facebook bill, which would allow the state to seek court orders to force the social media giant to remove certain content based on police recommendations, passed its first reading in the Knesset.
The government says the bill will only be invoked in cases of suspected incitement, where there is a real possibility that the material in question endangers the public or national security.
Additionally, in April, families of five Americans murdered or injured in recent Palestinian terror attacks in Israel filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Facebook for failing to ban the Gaza-based terror group Hamas from using its social media platform.
“Facebook has knowingly provided material support and resources to Hamas in the form of Facebook’s online social media network platform and communication services,” a press release issued by the plaintiffs said. “Hamas has used and relied on Facebook’s online social network platform and communications services as among its most important tools to facilitate and carry out its terrorist activity.”
AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.