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Twitter blocks 35 Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist accounts

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister, meets with U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Ron Johnson, June 6, 2017. (Claire McCaskill/Flickr)
July 06, 2018

Twitter this week blocked 35 accounts connected to terrorists after a request made by Israel.

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan sent a letter to Twitter demanding the closure of Hamas and Hezbollah accounts, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Erdan threatened legal action if Twitter did not comply.

“Enabling terrorist organizations to operate freely and spread their message via your platform may be a violation of Israeli law regarding providing support to terrorist organizations,” Erdan said.

“In addition, Israel, like numerous other countries, is currently advancing legislation that will place penalties on internet companies that do not comply with requests from law enforcement and judicial bodies to remove terrorist content,” he added.

“Twitter, unlike other social media companies, has been largely irresponsive to requests by the Israeli authorities to remove terrorist content and shut down terrorist accounts,” Erdan continued. “As a result, terrorist organizations have been increasing their use of Twitter as a preferred means of spreading their propaganda, as they are able to operate openly with little to no interference.”

Erdan’s request follows his public criticism of Twitter due to its failure to close accounts connected to terrorist groups.

Israel’s Homeland Security Ministry confirmed that the purged accounts consisted of “prominent Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Meshaal, Izzat al-Rishq, Hossam Badran, Salah al-Bardawil, Fathi Hammad, Fawzi Barhoum, Osama Hamdan, Sami Abu Zuhri, Taher al-Nono, Rawhi Mushtaha, Moussa Abu Marzouk and Hussein Abu Kwik, among others.”

Erdan’s letter included a list of 40 accounts “belonging to Hamas, Palestinian Island Jihad, Hezbollah and their leaders.”

Twitter blocked 35 accounts two weeks after receiving the letter.

However, the accounts are not closed from the Twitter site – they’re only blocked in Israel, Arutz Sheva reported.

When an Israeli computer attempts to access the Twitter page of @hamasinfo, they receive the message: “@hamasinfo’s account has been withheld in Israel in response to a legal demand.”

Everywhere outside Israel, the account is accessible after acknowledging a warning.

The warning says: “Caution: This profile may include potentially sensitive content. You’re seeing this warning because they Tweet potentially sensitive images or language. Do you still want to view it?”

Facebook has been more cooperative toward Israel’s requests than Twitter.

Facebook reportedly removed hundreds of Palestinian accounts, including the official page of the Palestinian News Agency.