Israelis sue Facebook
A masked Palestinian protester prepares to hurl stones towards Israeli troops during clashes near the Jewish settlement of Bet El, near the West Bank city of RamallahMohamad Torokman/Reuters

At least 20,000 Israeli plaintiffs have joined hands with an NGO in mounting a legal suit against Facebook for failing to block contents of Palestinian incitement. Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center - filed the case in New York State Supreme Court in Brooklyn against Facebook for failing to perform its "legal and moral obligation".

The lawsuit alleges that the social media giant ignored content openly calling for attacks on Israeli interests. It added that posts on Facebook have inspired many terror attacks, resulting in escalation of tensions in recent weeks.

"Facebook's algorithms and platform connects inciters to terrorists who are further encouraged to perpetrate stabbings and other violence attacks against Israelis," the class-action lawsuit read. The suit was jointly filed by Nitsana Darshan, director of Shurat HaDin, Asher Perlin of Florida, and Robert Tolchin of New York.

The press statement released by the NGO added that many attackers "were motivated to commit their heinous crimes by incitement to murder they read on Facebook — demagogues and leaders exhorting their followers to 'slaughter the Jews,' and offering instruction as to the best manner to do so, including even anatomical charts showing the best places to stab a human being".

While the complaint does not seek any monetary damages from Facebook, it demands that the social network website "immediately remove all pages, groups and posts containing incitement to murder Jews; to actively monitor its website for such incitement that all incitement is immediately removed prior to being disseminated to masses of terrorists and would-be terrorists; and to cease serving as matchmaker between terrorists, terrorist organizations, and those who incite others to commit terrorism".

Local media reports in Israel have pointed fingers at social media for being a major factor in fuelling the rising violence in Jerusalem. Facebook pages such as Quds News Network, which boasts 3.6 million followers on Facebook, and Shehab News Agency, which has 4.1 million followers, have reportedly posted images of Palestinian victims accompanied by messages urging followers to mount attacks on Israelis.