“Securing the net”: the state uses social media posts to justify violation of basic rights of Palestinians המוקד להגנת הפרט
“Securing the net”: the state uses social media posts to justify violation of basic rights of Palestinians
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A Palestinian news photographer, the son and brother of permanent Israeli residents, has been living with his family in East Jerusalem for many years; but unlike the others in his family, he is stateless – in Israel as well as worldwide. In October 2014, the Interministerial Committee acting within the Ministry of Interior decided to regulate his presence in Israel and give him a tourist visa type B/1, which enabled him to work in Israel.

A year later, when the young man applied to have his visa extended, the Ministry of Interior notified him, on December 6, 2015, that it was considering refusing the application on “security” grounds – because the photographer had published on his Facebook page “rallies of Hamas and events held at Temple Mount… photos dealing with clashes between soldiers and East Jerusalem residents, funerals of ‘shahids’… and also a graffiti painting showing a map of the land of Israel painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag and a rifle next to it”. In the administrative hearing held at the Interior Ministry, the young man clarified that the photos on his Facebook page did not reflect his political opinions, but showcased his photographic work, in order to advertise his work and skills as photographer.

As the Ministry of Interior issued no decision for over four months, on May 16, 2016, HaMoked filed an appeal with the Appeals Tribunal in Jerusalem, for the ministry’s non-response to the photographer’s request.

On May 24, 2016, the Ministry of Interior – repeating the exact wording of its previous notice – notified its decision to reject the request due to the photos the photographer had posted on the social network site.

Therefore, HaMoked filed an appeal to the Appeals Tribunal against the decision, arguing that the identical language of the Ministry of Interior’s notices – before and after the hearing – clearly indicated that the youth’s claims had not been considered in making the decision, which gave cause to suspect that the hearing was inherently flawed and was held by the Ministry of Interior only as a matter of form. HaMoked stressed that the Ministry of Interior’s decision condemned the youth to deportation from his city and disconnection from his family – without the state presenting reasoned and compelling arguments that the youth was actually posing a threat to state security.

On July 27 2016, the tribunal issued an interim order prohibiting the youth’s deportation pending end of judicial proceedings.
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