Are Facebook and Twitter finally cracking down on Palestinian incitement? If the recent closure of multiple accounts linked to Hamas's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is anything to go by the answer is yes.
On Friday, Twitter shut down the account of the al-Qassam Brigades' official spokesman, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Obeida. The closure was the latest in a series of accounts linked to Hamas to be removed by Twitter, which has also frequently removed accounts linked to other terrorist groups such as ISIS, Somalia's Al-Shabaab and others.
In fact over the past month or so dozens of Hamas accounts in Hebrew, English and Arabic have been removed by Twitter – but up until last week Abu Obeida had continued to post propaganda on the social media site with impunity.
Still, as with other jihadist organizations and operatives whose accounts have been closed, Obeida opened a new account the next day – which has yet to be banned.
But the closure clearly irked Hamas (the account had nearly 200,000 followers before being taken down) enough for Abu Obeida to issue an official press release condemning Twitter.
"Twitter’s persistence in shutting down our accounts shows that our true voices have exposed the Zionist enemy and its proxies," Obeida said, in statements posted to Hamas's official website.
"Twitter chose to side with the occupation, which refutes its claims of honesty and impartiality."
Hamas also claimed Twitter had closed "Al-Qassam Brigades’ Arabic, English and Hebrew-speaking accounts that collectively had over 200,000 followers."
More significantly perhaps, a separate Facebook page set up by Obeida on Saturday – after his original Twitter account was deleted – was also removed. While Twitter have removed several Hamas-liked accounts before, as noted, this appears to be the first time Facebook has taken decisive action to remove a Hamas-linked page.
Both social media giants, together with Google, have been facing a concerted campaign by Jewish and pro-Israel activists, to take action against anti-Semitic incitement. Activists and terror victims rights campaigners allege the companies are turning a blind eye to the torrent of hate which helps inspire deadly terrorism in Israel.
Facebook is even facing a lawsuit for allegedly allowing terrorists to coordinate attacks via its platform.
Hamas has used social media extensively over the past several years, both as a means of spreading its propaganda as well as to goad and threaten Israelis, often in poorly-written Hebrew.