Hamas blasts Twitter’s shutdown of its accounts

Palestinian terror group bemoans company’s ‘bias’ towards Israel which it says is allowed to promote ‘racism and terrorism’

Hamas members at a funeral in the southern Gaza Strip on March 4, 2016. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)
Hamas members at a funeral in the southern Gaza Strip on March 4, 2016. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)

Hamas lashed out at Twitter on Friday, after the social media giant allegedly closed a number of its accounts.

The party’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said its English and Arabic-language accounts had been closed for the third time in two weeks.

The Brigades accused Twitter of showing a “clear bias to the Israeli occupation where it should [adopt a] neutral position toward both sides.”

It said that Israeli officials were allowed to encourage “racism, extremism and terrorism” on the site, and called on the company to reopen the accounts.

One of the closed accounts had more than 140,000 followers, it said in a statement.

Twitter said in a statement that it does not comment on individual accounts for “privacy and security reasons.”

It wasn’t the first time that Twitter accounts associated with Hamas’s military wing have been shut down by the social media site.

During the 45-day war between Hamas and Israel in the summer of 2014, Twitter shut down all of the group’s official accounts. However, almost immediately, the Qassam Brigades began operating new accounts.

Rather than open a new account this time, Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida urged the 194,308 followers of his own account on Tuesday to follow a separate Twitter handle operated by the terror group that has been less active in recent months.

The terror group’s Twitter handle was used to publish internal news about the organization, such as when its members died in training accidents, and also to call for and praise attacks against Israeli civilians.

Twitter has been making efforts over the last two years to prevent terrorist organizations from spreading their messages through the service. The social media giant, however, has come under fire for its inability to prevent the terror groups, among them the Islamic State group, from simply opening new accounts.

Dov Lieber contributed to this report.

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