Live broadcast of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s speech (April 30, 2022), in which he called for carrying out attacks, including attacks with axes, and threatened to fire rockets at Israel, in the presence of senior military wing operatives
The events of the month of Ramadan and the series of terrorist attacks perpetrated in Israel since mid-March 2022 have once again brought to mind the use made by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) of social media as platforms to convey incitement messages and calls for carrying out terrorist attacks. Social media is popular mostly among the younger generation and is used by youths as the main means of consuming news (including fake news). It is likely that social media also influences the extent of their radicalization and willingness to take part in violent activity and in carrying out attacks.
To deliver their messages of incitement, Hamas and the PIJ make use of platforms such as Twitter, TikTok, WhatsApp, Telegram, and YouTube. These platforms are neither supervised nor subject to a consistent policy of removing content and blocking pages and accounts inciting terrorism and violence.
However, alongside these types of social media, Hamas also succeeds in conveying its messages of incitement through Meta’s platforms (Facebook and Instagram), which are subject to supervision and the removal of inciting content. The Hamas leadership uses these platforms to disseminate incitement messages serving its line of information and propaganda. In some cases, it uses alternative platforms, replacing those that have been removed due to inappropriate content. All this is carried out in spite of the supervision and efforts to remove inciting content.
It should be pointed out that compared to the content on unsupervised platforms, it is evident that Hamas activists operating those networks are well aware of the need to disguise their incitement content on Facebook and Instagram in order not to expose themselves to the risk of being shut down. They are doing that by disseminating the information under the guise of “journalist coverage” and “live broadcasts.” In addition, they sometimes stress that what they are quoting is information from Israeli sources. However, their messages are edited in a biased and tendentious way, intended to serve Hamas’s narrative.
The following are examples identified by May 8, 2022, as content posted on Facebook and Instagram by Hamas and the PIJ.