Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg / Flash 90
Strategic Affairs and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan

By Itsik Saban and Yisrael Hayom Staff

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday called on Twitter to ‎remove accounts that are clearly linked to terrorist organizations ‎such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah, or face potential legal ‎action. ‎

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‎“As I believe you are aware, terrorist organizations have been ‎expanding their use of social networks to radicalize, recruit, incite ‎and spread propaganda. As Israel’s public security minister, I ‎have seen directly the way that incitement spread through social ‎media has inspired murderous ‘lone-wolf’ terrorist attacks,” Erdan ‎wrote in a letter to the social media giant’s CEO Jack Dorsey and to ‎Executive Chairman Omid ‎Kordestani.‎

In the letter, Erdan noted that unlike other social media platform, ‎Twitter has consistently refused Israeli authorities’ requests to ‎remove content posted by terrorist groups or block accounts that ‎feature support of or incitement to terrorism. ‎

He demanded that Dorsey and Kordestani‎ ‎‎“immediately shut down the Twitter accounts of designated terrorist ‎organizations responsible for the murder of thousands, namely ‎accounts belonging to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and ‎Hezbollah.‎

‎“Enabling terrorist organizations to operate freely and spread their ‎messages via your platform may be a violation of existing Israeli ‎law on supporting terrorist organizations. In addition, Israel, like ‎numerous other countries, is currently promoting legislation that will ‎place penalties on internet companies that do not comply with ‎requests from law-enforcement and judicial bodies to remove ‎terrorist content.‎

‎“I have been informed by the Israel Police ‎and the Justice Ministry that Twitter, unlike other social media ‎companies, has largely been irresponsive to requests by the Israeli ‎authorities to remove terrorist content and shut down terrorist ‎accounts,” the letter 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. As just one example, Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, has operated an official English-‎language Twitter account since March 2015.‎

‎“I am certain that you do not wish to be responsible for supporting ‎and enabling terrorist organizations that are actively engaged in ‎inciting and executing attacks against innocent civilians. I therefore ‎demand that you immediately shut down accounts affiliated with ‎these terrorist organizations, their leaders and spokespeople; ‎remove such content from your network, and prevent these ‎organizations from opening accounts under any other name in the ‎future,” wrote Erdan. ‎

Failure to do so, he warned, “may see us pursue legal and criminal ‎proceedings against Twitter under bills currently in their advanced ‎legislative stages, which will hold Internet companies liable for ‎terrorist content on their platforms, as well as under existing Israeli ‎anti-terror laws.”

Erdan also included a partial list in his letter, detailing some ‎‎20 Twitter accounts affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and ‎Hezbollah.‎

‎“It’s time for the social media giants to take responsibility for the ‎content they distribute,” Erdan told Israel Hayom. ‎

‎“It is unthinkable that organizations calling for the murder of Jews ‎and Israelis would be allowed to openly manage Twitter accounts,” he said. ‎“The fight against online incitement in Israel has proven to be an ‎important tool in curbing suicide terrorism. If companies like Twitter ‎don’t meet our demand, we may pursue criminal action against ‎them. I call on other countries to join our demand and stop the ‎spread of incitement through social media.”

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