Twitter suspends Hamas- and Hezbollah-affiliated handles

Al-Manar TV accuses the social network of giving into ‘political pressure’; IDF spokesman welcomes decision

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar in Gaza City, June 26, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar in Gaza City, June 26, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Twitter has suspended accounts affiliated with the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups as well as a Palestinian news outlet.

As of Sunday, access to Hamas’s English and Arabic handles as well as several of those belonging to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV was no longer available.

Access to three Quds News Network accounts was also cut off.

When The Times of Israel searched for the accounts, a message stating that they had been suspended appeared. The message said that the social media company “suspends accounts which violate the Twitter rules.”

Twitter’s website features a list of rules, including that one may not “threaten violence against an individual or group of people” or “threaten or promote terrorism or violent extremism.”

Both the US and Israel consider Hamas and Hezbollah to be terrorist organizations.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and has vowed to destroy Israel, has fought three wars with the Jewish state in the past 12 years. Its officials have frequently praised stabbing, shooting, rocket and ramming attacks against Israelis.

Al-Manar said Twitter’s suspension of its accounts was a result of “political pressures.”

When The Times of Israel searched for Hamas’s Arabic-language Twitter account, a message stating that it had been suspended appeared. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Quds News Network, which had more than 630,000 followers on its primary handle, said in a statement: “Placing restrictions on, deleting and blocking accounts is a demonstration of clear bias against Palestinian media and an attack on it.”

Quds News Network has often reported in a manner critical of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and regularly highlighted stories related to attacks against Israelis.

Asked about the suspended accounts, Twitter told TOI: “There is no place on Twitter for illegal terrorist organizations and violent extremist groups. We have a long history of taking strong enforcement action, using a combination of people, partnerships, and technology.”

The company also said that it was reviewing handles that members of Congress recently called on them to eliminate from its platform.

“If we find that they — or any other affiliated accounts — are in violation of our policies, they will face immediate suspension from Twitter,” it stated.

Four members of Congress sent a letter to Twitter on October 22, demanding that it remove “Hamas and Hezbollah-affiliated content” and handles.

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus praised Twitter for suspending the Hamas- and Hezbollah-linked accounts.

“Kudos to @Twitter for suspending the accounts of terror groups #Hezbollah and #Hamas. Internationally recognized terror groups should never have a platform for their violent extremism,” he tweeted on Sunday.

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