Israeli court jails East Jerusalem man for Facebook incitement

Sami Dais gets eight month sentence for posting messages praising terrorists, calling for more attacks on Israelis

Illustrative image of a woman using a laptop computer. (Sophie Gordon/Flash90)
Illustrative image of a woman using a laptop computer. (Sophie Gordon/Flash90)

An Israeli court on Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian from East Jerusalem to eight months in prison for “inciting to violence or terror” on his Facebook page.

In its ruling, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court quoted a series of statements and postings by A-Tur resident Sami Dais, 27, on Facebook between July and November last year in which he praised deadly attacks on Jews.

“Death to Israel,” he wrote on his account on July 5, posting on the same day a picture of an ultra-Orthodox Jew with guns pointed to his head and a pistol and knife above, with the caption “Blood = blood! Kill them, death to settlers.”

He also praised the Palestinians who killed two Jews in Jerusalem with his car, who shot and seriously wounded Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick in October, and who killed four Israelis in an attack on a synagogue the following month.

Judge Shmuel Herbst handed down six additional months of probation to Dais, to be served should he commit the same offense again within three years of his release, as part of a plea deal after the Palestinian man confessed to the charges.

The incriminating posts were put online as a wave of violence rocked the city, during which there were clashes in East Jerusalem and several Palestinians staged lone wolf attacks.

“These circumstances increase the influence of the defendant’s calls for acts of terror and violence,” the court said.

“The defendant is calling to kill and murder, and praising those who did so,” said the ruling, stressing the need to deter others from committing similar “ideological crimes”.

Dais’s attorney, Taraq Bargut, argued that incitement on social media is a new phenomenon that has not been considered by courts and that his client should have been warned before being punished for his actions. Bargut also noted that there are “many inciting posts exist on the web at any given time.”

“But the authorities chose to enforce the present case selectively and inappropriately, and therefore the matter should lead to a lighter of the judgement on the accused,” he said.

Last week the same court sentenced the secretary general of Fatah’s Jerusalem branch, Omar Shalabi, 44, to nine months in prison for similar offenses.

Israel’s justice minister had announced in December the indictments of eight East Jerusalem Palestinians for Facebook postings that incited to terror against Jews and Israelis.

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