Online hatred turns into real-world violence in Israel-Palestine

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Israeli bat yam attack and injured person’s car

While there is such an uncomfortable ceasefire in Israel-Palestine, digital terrorism is not diminishing. The combination of online hate, harassment, and physical violence has sprouted across social media channels. An Israeli team that fights against misinformation and hatred cannot act fast enough.

From his office in Israel, the Fake Reporter is sending online threat reports to the Israeli authorities, hoping to prevent them from becoming a reality. A watchdog group of about 10 researchers, staff and online investigators who are largely volunteers dig up false information and fake accounts online. They had previously focused on misleading information under state patronage and were stuck because of the growth of digital hatred within Israel.

“We’re a misinformation group so we weren’t prepared for this situation,” executive director Achia Shatz told BuzzFeed News.

Online hate occupies a part of the ongoing violence. During the war, 28 Palestinians, including children, were killed by Israeli rockets. A rocket attack by Hamas has killed at least 16 people in Israel, including two children. A ceasefire was agreed on 21 May.

But for fake reporters, the conflict has made it clear that divisions within Israeli society have led to online hatred and physical violence. Their team has been working all day and long night to list the violent messages, many of which have been crowded through its website. Another organization, Democratic bloc, Helps in research.

“Right now we’re on a life-saving mission.”

“Right now we’re on a life-saving mission,” Shatz said.

Over the past two weeks, they have seen hate speech on the streets turn into violence. They are monitoring about 100 WhatsApp and Telegram channels, most of them in Hebrew. There has been violence across Israel, including against Jewish residents, but right-wing Israeli extremists have become more organized.

“The ground was prepared for this kind of violence, because I think the trend of racism in Israel has been going on for years,” Shatz said.

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Palestinian children play next to a building that was severely damaged in an Israeli airstrike on May 2, 2021 in Gaza City.

On May 12, in Bat Yam, a coastal town south of Tel Aviv, an evil mob attacks a man. The fake reporter saw it happen on the Telegram channel they were watching and was live on television because the state broadcaster described it as lynching. Victim was on his way to spend the evening on the beach when a man stared out the window of his car, stuck in traffic, and asked if he was Arab. When he said yes, he was dragged out of the car and beaten, as people shouted and recorded the incident on their phones.

The father of four survived but was hospitalized and seriously injured. “I was going to the beach [for] I didn’t know I would return to my children like this, ”the victim told Channel 12 News, a top Israeli news station. “Why should I blame? Was I worthy of it? Am I born Arab? Is it my fault?

Ori Cole, co-founder of Fake Reporter, has seen the scene on both television and telegram. “We were trying to see what they were doing, because they were uploading pictures of what they saw, uploading pictures of violence in telegram groups.”

Shatz said the fake reporter filed a report with Israeli police before, the day after and the day after the attack, showing that extremists had threatened to beat people in Bat Yam. The messages that the Watchdog group saw were clear: “I invite you through this to a people’s war against the Arabs that will take place this evening at Bat Yam Promenade. Car with suitable gear, knife, sword, gun, stone, wooden board, bull bar Come on, ”said one.

Despite their warnings, FakeReporter researchers can only look at times of violence. “No one was sent to the ground,” Shatz said. “And a terrible thing happened.”

In the days following Sheikh Zarra’s Israeli expulsion of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem area and the attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, extremists became concerned about weapons and suggested where to find them on the Telegram and WhatsApp channels. According to a screenshot seen by BuzzFeed News, they posted pictures of knives, guns and sticks, as well as a combination of racist insults, provocations, false information and when and where to meet.

“It was a really deadly environment on the street.”

“It was really a deadly environment on the streets,” said Cole, who observes some of the groups.

Tensions are running high between right-wing influencers such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. With just over 1,000,000 followers on Twitter, a telegram channel that has added 1,500 followers in the past two weeks, and a podcast, he has taken on a role in Israel that plays the role of Donald Trump Jr. in the United States: an online supporter of his rally father. And spreading hatred against their opponents.

The Israeli military claimed that after the bombing of a 12-story building in Gaza, “Hamas’s military intelligence resources“(It did not respond to U.S. officials for comment), destroying the AP and Al Jazeera offices and residences, and Netanyahu stepped up his attacks on the media.” “)

On May 19, He tweeted a cartoon to show a crowd of people gathered around a water cooler, a man standing in the middle of them holding a rocket launcher. “Sheila works with Al Jazeera and I’m with the Associated Press,” the woman told the man in the rocket launcher. “How are you?”

Yar Netanyahu is re-tweeting coverage from popular American right-wing influentials, including Ben Shapiro, Dinesh D’Souza and Andy Ngo, and media outlets like Breitbart and Federalist.

“Yar Netanyahu uses his social media platform to provide an independent voice for millions of Israeli conservatives who have removed the media from Israeli institutions, which is highly biased against the right.” “Your article is a perfect example of the perversion of a media that identifies its followers as ‘too right.’ The majority in a county is right-wing.

On May 15, the same day as the bombings of the AP and Al Jazeera building, Netanyahu tweeted that he had called for a protest in front of the home of media executive Avi Weiss. The prime minister’s son then posted a flyer calling for protests outside the media office, saying “we are no longer talking about anti-Zionist brainwashing in the media.”

The protest was canceled due to subsequent voices, but the fake reporter noticed that people were sharing screenshots of Yar Netanyahu’s tweets. In at least one instance, two people discuss in the video whether it would be better to go to the executive’s home or media office. On Sunday, Yar Netanyahu again called for protests against members of the media.

Members of the Israeli media have been victims of violence in recent days. According to the Jerusalem Post, four journalists have been attacked, including one of the public broadcasters promoting the Bat Yam mob.

A message in the telegram chat said, “When we fuck Arabs, we fuck the media.” Others called for the studio to be destroyed and called Channel 12 “Al Jazeera in Hebrew,” a term popularized by Yar Netanyahu that expressed sympathy for Hamas.

According to Tehila Schwartz Altschular, head of the media reform program at the Israel Democracy Institute, Yair’s messages are often a breeding ground for Israeli right-wing groups that study Israeli social media and consult with fake reporters.

“I’m worried, I’m very scared,” he told BuzzFeed News. “Because I think it’s a very fine dog’s whistle and right-wing extremists and right-wing activists can understand the messages they post on Twitter. They take them to WhatsApp or Telegram and then all of a sudden they become calls for action.

And while the attack on the building terrified international observers, it inspired extremists in Israel, encouraged by the tweets of Yar Netanyahu, which they screenshot and promoted.

“His main contribution to what we have seen in these telegram groups is over the last few days where the right wing of this group has really started pointing out to the media what they see as patriotic, treacherous. [behavior]Cole said.

According to Cole, the personal phone number of Dana Weiss, a prominent Channel 12 reporter and anchor, was posted with the message “Congratulations to her for a good job.” Other texts call him a “spokesman for jihad” and promote his poorly photoshopped image of him wearing a hijab. As a result, he received many violent threats, including death threats.

The call has seen online hate repeatedly lead to offline violence.

“Violence starts online and goes on the streets.”

“Violence starts online and goes on the streets,” he said. “This is something we have seen in our work on Fake Reporter that we are trying to send as the main lesson. And unfortunately, businesses for online-inspired lynching are growing around the world.

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