Israeli Rights Group Sues Facebook Over Palestinian Violence

YERUSHALAYIM (AP/Reuters) -
Former IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, speaks during the conference "Towards a New Law of War" held by Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center, at the Dan Hotel, Jerusalem, on May 4, 2015. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** בני גנץ רמטכ״ל לשעבר שורת הדין חוק חוק מלחמה לחימה חוקים קונפליקט טרור כנס ירושלים
Former IDF Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, speaks during a conference held by Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center, in Yerushalayim, in 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

An Israeli rights group says it is suing Facebook for $1 billion on behalf of families of victims of Palestinian terror attacks.

The Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center is claiming the social network provides terror groups with a platform for spreading violence.

The victims cited in the suit were all American. The plaintiffs include the family of Taylor Force, a 28-year-old American veteran who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv while visiting Israel in March.

Shurat Hadin says Facebook is violating the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act by allowing groups such as the Islamic terror group Hamas to disseminate their messages on Facebook.

The lawsuit comes as Israel is considering how to contain what it sees as Palestinian incitement on social media.

Hamas formally claimed responsibility for one of the attacks cited in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs’ Israeli lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, said they had expert assessments linking Hamas to the other attacks.

The lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, argued that the platform “knowingly provided material support and resources to Hamas … facilitat[ing] this terrorist group’s ability to communicate, recruit members, plan and carry out attacks, and strike fear in its enemies.”

Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the United States. The lawsuit was brought under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1992 which prohibits American businesses from providing any material support, including services, to designated terrorist groups and their leaders.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, called the lawsuit an Israeli attempt to blackmail Facebook and accused Israel of trying to turn the social network into a spy tool against Palestinians.

He said some Israeli politicians and soldiers had “expressed pride at the killing of Palestinians” on social media.

Darshan-Leitner, of the Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center, filed a class action suit in October for an injunction against Facebook to stop carrying alleged Palestinian incitement. She said proceedings were still underway in that case.