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Facebook targets Gaza-run accounts: activists

Displaced Palestinians gather at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City where they have taken refuge after fleeing heavy fighting in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of the city, on July 31, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS

GAZA CITY: A group of politicians and academics in the Gaza Strip have accused Facebook of deliberately suspending their accounts to silence Palestinian criticism of the Israeli assault on the coastal enclave.

“What the Facebook administration is doing by removing pages belonging to Palestinians without prior notice is hostile and strange,” Adnan Abu Amer, a professor in Gaza’s Ummah University, told Anadolu Agency Thursday.

Abu Amer said Facebook closed his page twice within the past week. “The only explanation for these acts is a willingness to help Israel impose its version of events by barring Palestinians’ accounts.”

“Nothing I ever wrote on my page could be considered instigative,” Abu Amer said. “I post analytical commentary on the ongoing events, which does not violate Facebook’s rules in any way.”

A day earlier, Moussa Abu Marzouq, a leading member of Hamas in Gaza, said on a newly setup Facebook page that his previous account, which has over 20,000 followers, has also been abruptly suspended by the social networking site.

“I am angered at this strange policy of barring and removing Facebook accounts which violates the right to freedom of expression,” Abu Marzouq said.

Other Hamas members and activists in the embattled Gaza Strip have recently voiced similar complaints. “Palestinian pages on Facebook have helped expose Israel’s crimes in Gaza by merely posting facts and footage which demonstrate the monstrosity of Israeli attacks on civilians,” Abu Amer said.

Social media, including Facebook, has become a battleground between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, political analyst Nazeer Magali argued.

“Israel wants its version of events to be the only one reaching the outside world,” Magali said. “The Israeli lobby is pressuring media outlets in the U.S. to adopt Israel’s viewpoint and disregard the Palestinian one. Facebook pages run by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are under attack because they were able to draw solidarity with Gaza’s plight from people all over the world by exposing Israel’s brutality against women and children.”

The Facebook administration has yet to respond to a request for comment by Anadolu Agency.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 01, 2014, on page 9.

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Summary

A group of politicians and academics in the Gaza Strip have accused Facebook of deliberately suspending their accounts to silence Palestinian criticism of the Israeli assault on the coastal enclave.

Abu Amer said Facebook closed his page twice within the past week.

A day earlier, Moussa Abu Marzouq, a leading member of Hamas in Gaza, said on a newly setup Facebook page that his previous account, which has over 20,000 followers, has also been abruptly suspended by the social networking site.

Social media, including Facebook, has become a battleground between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, political analyst Nazeer Magali argued.


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