An official from the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party claimed the group’s Facebook page was reinstated, after being temporarily removed for incitement, as a result of the intervention of the US embassy.
Munir al-Jaghoub, who is the head of Fatah’s Information Department in the Office of Mobilization and Organization, said the US embassy offered its assistance in the matter after seeing media reports last month on the closure of Fatah’s Facebook page.
“I contacted the international media, and then I received a call from the American embassy, which got involved and resolved the problem with the Facebook administration, and the page returned to action on Monday evening, February 27, and they apologized and explained that what happened was a mistake,”al-Jaghoub said on the website of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, according to Palestinian Media Watch, an NGO that monitors these sites, in a press release Monday.
A spokesperson of the US embassy in Tel Aviv could not immediately be reached for comment.
Although Fatah’s Facebook page was taken down amid a crackdown by the social media giant on Palestinian incitement, it came back online only a day later.
According to Palestinian Media Watch, the account continues to feature posts glorying terrorists, such as Bashar Massalha, who last March stabbed to death US citizen and army veteran Taylor Force in a terror attack in the port city of Jaffa.
In a statement on its Twitter account at the time, Fatah, which is headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that Facebook closed the account after it posted a historical picture of former Fatah leader Yasser Arafat holding a rifle, standing alongside current vice president of the Fatah central committee Mahmoud al-Aloul.
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
The page, which garnered over 70,000 likes, routinely posts material that glorifies Palestinian terrorism and martyrdom, PMW said.
The brief closure of Fatah’s official account followed a series of measures by Facebook to crackdown against Palestinian incitement over social media.
Hosting President Donald Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt in Ramallah last week, Abbas vowed to combat Palestinian incitement against Israel.
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.
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.
Dov Lieber contributed to this report.