Middle East

Jerusalem: Social media plays critical role in clashes

Radicalized settlers called for marches via WhatsApp groups under slogan 'death to Arabs'

Salam Abu Sharar  | 23.04.2021 - Update : 23.04.2021
Jerusalem: Social media plays critical role in clashes


The Palestinian Red Crescent on Friday reported more than 105 injuries in the night clashes in occupied Jerusalem, with 30 of them being transported to hospitals.

The clashes erupted Thursday night after many calls by radicalized settlers for marches under the slogan “Death to Arabs” using WhatsApp groups for invitations among the protesters, and they used it to send calls to carry guns and instructions on how to avoid arrest.

Hundreds of far-right activists took to the streets in Jerusalem's Old City on Thursday, chanting "death to Arabs."

The extremist Jewish Lehava group led the marches and organized the protests to "restore Jewish dignity" in Jerusalem as they called it.

The daily Haaretz reported that a WhatsApp group chat organized by the far-right group La Familia, and a user posted: "Burning Arabs today, Molotov cocktails are already in the trunk … the way I see it, an Arab dies today."

The violent assaults against Palestinians increased last week after a video was posted on the TikTok social media platform showing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man being slapped randomly at the light rail train in Jerusalem.

The Israeli security services identified more than 50 Palestinian youth through the videos on TikTok and arrested them in allegations of documenting the incidents or assaults, the daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The documentation of the incidents of clashes between the Palestinians and settlers and postings by Palestinians on TikTok produced a strained atmosphere and motivation for more clashes, according to the Israeli security services.

Many Palestinians posted videos of the protests and clashes that began since the police decided to prevent Palestinian gatherings on Ramadan nights on the yards of Damascus Gate where they used to perform festive activities during the Muslim holy month.

The Israeli police announced in a statement on Friday that it had detained more than 50 Palestinians across Jerusalem through Thursday night, accusing them of "violence."

A group of Palestinian jurists from the Sabra institution launched a voluntary initiative to give legal counseling and awareness for the detainees and the Palestinians in general in Jerusalem after the institution noted the lack of legal knowledge among the Palestinian youth and partiality of the police to the settlers.

"We launched our initiative since the clashes raised last week, and arbitrary arrests are increasing until this moment particularly in the old city of Jerusalem and its surroundings. We received many calls from those who exposed to detention or from their relatives or friends and followed these calls. The detainees are in the police stations, in the interrogation, and others are transferred to the court," Baraa Zighari, an advocate and the head of the institution, told Anadolu Agency.

Zighari said he was in the Salah Al-Din street during the clashes on Thursday night, saw one of the settlers loading his rifle and shooting in the air near him in allegation of Arabs threatening his life, while CCTV videos on the street show that the settler was not in serious danger.

“The police protected the settlers march from the Jaffa street until they reached the Damascus Gate, and on the other hand, they fired sound bombs, tear gas, and exhaust water against Palestinians. It was an obvious bias,” Zighari added.

“This behavior is very dangerous, the police didn’t do anything with him,” he condemned.

Five specialized advocates are volunteering for legal follow-up, in the police situations, and on the phone.

“From a legal point of view, consulting a lawyer before being investigated is important and it affects the course of the trial, particularly the police utilized the lack of legal knowledge against the detainees,” he added.

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