Israeli Occupation Forces arrested a Palestinian man last week in Beitar Illit illegal settlement, near the West Bank, after Israeli police mistakenly translated an harmless social media post. Haaretz reported the incident on Sunday after the automatic Facebook system translated ‘good morning’ in Arabic to ‘attack them’ in Hebrew, or ‘hurt them’ in English.
Israeli police arrested the Palestinian worker under the pretext of inciting violence. The phrase captioned a photograph of the man in front of a tractor, the likes of which have allegedly been used in attacks in the past.
The arrest went ahead, despite the post not having been screened by any Arabic speakers. The transliteration error could have been avoided, with any Arabic speaker being easily able to note the mistake.
The incident emphasizes the implications of the blanket monitoring of online Palestinian media and communication conducted by Israel. This practice of intensive monitoring includes the creation of a database of social media profiles, and an automatic screening process.
The Israeli surveillance system claims to detect and remove inflammatory content that is believed to provoke violence and extreme acts. Palestinians dismiss these claims, stating that violence is a reaction to Israeli oppression rather than incitement on social media, according to the Guardian.
The Palestinian worker was released after a few hours, after police realized the mistake. The post has since been deleted.