In first, Palestinian official jailed for Facebook posts

In first, Palestinian official jailed for Facebook posts

Omar Shalabi, 44, gets nine months in Israeli prison for 10 posts praising terrorists, inciting anger to ‘purify Al-Aqsa’

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Omar Shalabi (L) and Yasser Arafat (R) (photo credit: Facebook)
Omar Shalabi (L) and Yasser Arafat (R) (photo credit: Facebook)

The Jerusalem Magistrate Court on Tuesday sentenced the secretary general of Fatah’s Jerusalem branch to nine months in prison for using his personal Facebook account to incite violence and support terrorism against Israeli civilians.

The sentencing of Omar Shalabi, 44, a resident of the West Bank village of Eizaria, marks the first time Israeli courts handed out a prison sentence for incitement on social media, according to the Ynet news website.

Shalabi, who has no prior criminal record, was arrested in December for his online activity.

The indictment against him referenced 10 Facebook statuses written between July and October of last year, at a time of heightened tensions in the capital, in which he hailed terrorists for various attacks.

Last October, following an assassination attempt on Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, Shalabi wrote that Glick was in serious condition, and wished him “hell and bad fate.”

A month later, on the day after Border Police officer Jedan Assad and 17-year-old Shalom Aharon Badani were killed in a car-ramming attack, Shalabi wrote: “In Jerusalem there are actions, not words. May God have mercy on the brave shahid [martyr] Ibrahim Akary and may he enter heaven.”

In another instance, he wrote: “Children of Jerusalem, be angered and continue on the path of despair and conflict that will simmer and purify Jerusalem and al-Aqsa from the defilement of the bastard Jews.”

Judge Eitan Kornhauser described the online posts as “grave incitement, including praise of heinous murderers and words of encouragement to carry out similar actions.”

The judge also noted the explosive political situation and the large exposure the posts received. At the time, Shalabi had over 5,000 friends and 775 followers.

“Sharp and clear boundaries of penalties must be set, which will serve as a warning to everyone armed with a keyboard,” the judge wrote.

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