Twitter suspends MK who said Palestinian teen ‘deserved a bullet’
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Twitter suspends MK who said Palestinian teen ‘deserved a bullet’

Jewish Home’s Bezalel Smotrich decries ‘silencing opinions,’ rejects social media site’s demand he remove offending tweet about soldier-slapper Ahed Tamimi

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich at his party's weekly faction meeting at the Knesset, December 25, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich at his party's weekly faction meeting at the Knesset, December 25, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Twitter suspended a firebrand Israeli lawmaker’s account on Monday due to a post in which he said a Palestinian teen protester who was filmed slapping an IDF soldier should have been shot.

Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich was banned from the social media site for 12 hours for “offensive behavior,” along with a demand he remove the tweet, which expressed regret that Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old Palestinian sentenced to eight months behind bars for slapping an Israeli soldier, had emerged unscathed.

Responding to a tweet from ex-Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal, Smotrich lamented that IDF troops did not maim Tamimi during the December 2017 incident.

“I am actually very sad that she is under arrest, Yinon,” Smotrich tweeted at Magal, who had expressed satisfaction Tamimi was still behind bars four months after her arrest.

“In my opinion, she deserved a bullet, at the very least to the kneecap. That would put her under house arrest for the rest of her life,” Smotrich said.

The far-right Knesset member made it clear late Monday that he didn’t intend to delete the tweet, vowing to appeal against the demand he do so.

“This is a new record in silencing opinions,” Smotrich said. “Apparently freedom of speech is only reserved for one side of the political spectrum.

“I stand behind every word from this tweet,” he added.

The Twitter app on an iPhone screen, October 18, 2013. (AP/Richard Drew)

According to a screen capture that Smotrich apparently sent right-wing colleagues, Twitter explained that he had violated the site’s rules banning “offensive behavior.”

“You are not permitted to be involved in deliberate harassment of a person, or to incite others to be involved in such behavior,” Twitter’s message said. “We view offensive behavior as an attempt to harass, scare or silence another person.”

Smotrich has a history of controversial remarks, including encouraging draft-dodging in protest of the IDF’s “radical feminist” agenda, comparing the evacuation of an illegal settlement outpost to a “brutal rape,” and claiming that “illiterate” Arabs are only granted university admission thanks to affirmative action.

He has also called himself a “proud homophobe,” called for segregated Jewish-Arab maternity wards, and was involved in organizing an anti-gay “Beast Parade” in Jerusalem, in response to the city’s annual Gay Pride parade.

17-year-old Palestinian Ahed Tamimi (R), arrives for the beginning of her trial at the Ofer Military Court in the West Ban on February 13, 2018. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

Tamimi is serving an eight-month prison term — the result of a plea deal — for slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers outside her West Bank home, as well as another video in which she encouraged stabbing attacks and other attacks against Israelis.

Under the terms of the deal, Tamimi confessed to aggravated assault of an IDF soldier, incitement to violence and disrupting soldiers on two other occasions. The 17-year-old was also filmed encouraging attacks against Israelis, including stabbing attacks.

In her version of the incident, Tamimi told a military court in the West Bank, the same soldiers featured in the video had shot her cousin in the head with a rubber bullet an hour prior to the filmed encounter.

Tamimi’s arrest and prosecution by Israel has garnered international attention. It has also touched on broader issues, such as the detention of Palestinian minors by Israeli — currently 356 — and the debate on what constitutes legitimate resistance to Israel’s rule over millions of Palestinians.

Earlier this month, the IDF said the Justice Ministry was investigating a video released by Tamimi’s family that shows an Israeli interrogator threatening the teen with the arrest of her relatives if she refused to cooperate.

The interrogator, who at times moved within centimeters of the Tamimi’s face, also commented on the teen’s body, fair skin, and “eyes of an angel.”

Tamar Pileggi and Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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