ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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34 people indicted since Oct. 7 for incitement, praise of Hamas and Hezbollah

The State Attorney’s Office has filed charges against citizens, East Jerusalem residents for social media posts lauding the October 7 atrocities and other offenses

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

A house where 40 Israeli civilians were held hostage in Kibbutz Be'eri, October 11, 2023 (Lazar Berman/The Times of Israel)
A house where 40 Israeli civilians were held hostage in Kibbutz Be'eri, October 11, 2023 (Lazar Berman/The Times of Israel)

In the wake of the October 7 Hamas massacres in southern Israel and amid the ongoing war with Gaza, the State Attorney’s Office has indicted 34 Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem for incitement to terrorism and identification with terror organizations, mostly for social media posts in which they praised or supported the unprecedented terror attack against Israel.

The indictments have been filed against social media users who posted pictures of the Hamas fighters who perpetrated the October 7 atrocities and described them as “heroes,” praised the massacres in different ways, called on people to participate in confrontations with Israeli security forces and called for Hezbollah to attack Israel.

State Attorney Amit Aisman has instructed his office to investigate and charge anyone praising and supporting acts of terrorism since the October 7 atrocities were perpetrated.

The indictments are based almost exclusively on posts to numerous forms of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in which the individual either lauded the October 7 terror attacks, identified with Hamas and other terrorist groups, or issued expressions of support for further such acts.

On Sunday Muhammad Darwish, 30 years old and a resident of Jerusalem, was indicted on charges of identifying with a terror group, incitement to terror and directly calling for terror attacks, for a series of messages he sent within a WhatsApp group he helps administer called “Heart of the Incidents (Issawiya),” which has 287 members.

In one post from October 9, Dawish forwarded a picture of a slain Hamas terrorist dressed in a Hamas uniform with the words “Qassam Battalions” written on a strip around his head, and wrote in his forwarded message “The resistance martyr Said Hassan Elgabri, one of the special fighters of the Nukhba [Force]… that participated in the attack on Nir Oz.”

State Prosecutor Amit Aisman at the Israel Bar Association’s annual conference in Tel Aviv, September 4, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Nukhba Force is a Hamas “commando” unit that led the massacres and atrocities perpetrated on October 7.

The State Attorney’s Office indicted Darwish for “identifying with a terrorist organization” and “incitement to terrorism” over that WhatsApp post.

In another similar post to the group on October 8, Darwish described two dead Hamas terrorists as “our heroic martyrs after they knocked off the occupier’s nose, may God accept them and bless them,” and was charged for that post as well.

In total, Darwish was indicted on 12 counts of identifying with a terrorist organization, 13 counts of inciting terrorism, and one count of calling to carry out terrorist acts.

These are all criminal offenses under the 2016 Struggle against Terrorism Law, which stipulates a maximum three-year prison sentence for identifying with a terror organization, and maximum five-year sentences for praising, applauding, encouraging or directly calling for acts of terrorism.

The investigations are carried out by the police, who first must obtain authorization from the State Attorney’s Office. They eventually submit their recommendations to the State Attorney’s Office, which makes the decision on whether to indict.

Muhammad Bin Nasat Ououda, 23, from Kafr Kana in northern Israel, was arrested on October 16 and indicted on October 27 over a series of WhatsApp posts and status updates for inciting terrorism and identifying with a terrorist organization.

This included posting a picture to his WhatsApp status which bore the words “Today is the most significant day for our entire generation” in Arabic on October 7, along with the date 7.10.23 and a heart emoji next to it. He was indicted for this post on counts of praising, applauding, and encouraging terror acts and identifying with Hamas.

On the same day, Bin Nasat Ououda’s cousin messaged him telling him to delete the status update to which he replied, “My entire people is a hero and a resister, what’s the matter?!” along with three “V” for victory emojis.

Another man indicted for social media posts is Said Mansarah, 35, from Daburiyya in northern Israel, who posted a video on his Instagram account on October 22 in which a large group of people wearing Hezbollah flags called in Arabic “For God’s sake Sayyid let’s go, attack, attack.”

Sayyid is an honorific used for Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Hezbollah paramilitary terror group based in Lebanon, which has been attacking IDF positions and conducting other attacks in northern Israel since the beginning of Israel’s war with Hamas.

And Muhammad Ziyud, 21 years old from Umm al-Fahm, sent a picture in a WhatsApp group of 550 people bearing Hamas’s logo and calling on people to participate in a “Day of Rage” that Hamas had called for and to confront “the occupation forces,” in reference to Israeli security forces, as part of the “Al-Aqsa Deluge” — the name given by Hamas to the massacres and atrocities it perpetrated on October 7.

The message included a specific gathering point in Umm al-Fahm, and said people should gather there after morning prayers.

Ziyud was indicted on October 29 for incitement to terror and identifying with a terror group.

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