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Israeli extremists use WhatsApp and Telegram to organize attacks against Palestinians

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As hostilities take on greater proportions between Israel and Hamas, some Israelis turn to messaging apps to organize violent attacks against Palestinians. As the authorities have pointed out, WhatsApp groups and Telegram channels are linked to dozens of violent incidents.

The New York Times and FakeReporter, an organization that tracks misinformation in the country, found that last week at least 100 WhatsApp groups and about 20 Telegram channels emerged dedicated to defending violence against Palestinians. These groups and / or channels bear names such as “Death to the Arabs”, “The Jewish guard” and “The Troops of Vengeance”.

While there are extremists around the world who have used social media and messaging apps to organize and initiate violence in the past, investigators interviewed by the NYT believe that these groups and channels have gone further in using WhatsApp and Telegram than movements like stop The Steal. There is not only the planning of specific actions against the Palestinians, but also the execution of these plans.

Israeli extremists use WhatsApp and Telegram to organize attacks against

In a WhatsApp group, the newspaper found evidence of people sharing instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails and improvised explosives. While on a Telegram channel, with about 400 members, the NYT found that the administrators were asking for addresses of companies owned by Arabs.

WhatsApp has already taken action, banning some people involved in groups domiciled on its platform. The company’s enforcement efforts have led individuals to report those involved in the groups for violating terms of service. In turn, many of them started to be more careful with the new members. For example, private WhatsApp groups require an administrator’s invitation to join them, so it is not possible to search for them on the platform.

“With a private messaging service, we do not have access to the content of people’s personal messages, although when the information is reported to us, we take steps to ban accounts that we believe may be involved in causing imminent harm,” said a WhatsApp spokesman. Engadget. He added: “We also responded quickly to valid legal requests from law enforcement agencies regarding the limited information available to us.”

For the time being Telegram has not commented on what happened.

At first, the Israeli police did not act on the basis of information about the FakeReporter’s groups and channels, but they say they are now “tracking social media and monitoring movements in the field.” An official source told the NYT that the police had not witnessed a similar use of WhatsApp and Telegram among Palestinians.

Source: Engadget

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