A pro-Israel group has joined with several members of Congress to call for Hamas and its related accounts on Twitter to be banned from the site because they recruit people with the intent of inciting them to violence, reported The Hill.
Christians United for Israel renewed the call for a ban during violence between Israel and the Hamas-associated Palestinian leadership, even as the Israeli Defense Force live-tweeted its response to rockets being launched into the southern regions of the Jewish state.
CUI launched the online petition on Nov. 19 urging Twitter to remove the Hamas pages because of the service’s ability to spread the word using the microblogging service, reported the National Journal.
In a letter to the group’s supporters, Pastor John Hagee and CUI Executive Director David Brog wrote that Hamas is breaking U.S. federal law by using Twitter to communicate with terrorists who are committing acts of violence and war.
“The law specifically notes that material support includes the provision of any 'service' or 'communications equipment,’” Brog and Hagee wrote. “Twitter is currently providing Hamas terrorists with an important 'service' and with powerful ‘communications equipment’ that are crucial to furthering its primary terrorist objectives.”
Congress in 1996 made it a crime to provide “material support” for terrorist acts, which includes the ability of members of such groups to communicate, according to the ACLU.
The law refers to communications equipment, which, arguably, the servers hosting a communications service would qualify as, Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel at the ACLU, wrote in a blog post.
Rottman wrote, however, that he is unsure whether the micro-blogging service can be held responsible for providing a means for Hamas to exercise its right to free speech.
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, sent a letter signed by seven other members of Congress in September to FBI Director Robert Mueller asking the Hamas pages be taken down and the group banned for similar reasons - even before violence broke out two weeks ago in Gaza.
In the letter, Poe wrote that they were making a request “to Twitter that we not allow these terrorist organizations that preach not just hate, but immediate violence against Americans and others throughout the world, take down these sites because that’s how they communicate with other criminals in their organization. Constitutionally, they’re not allowed to do that.”
The IDF announced on its blog and on Twitter that it had killed Hamas’ second-in-command, Ahmed Jabari, posting a Tweet with an image containing information about what Israel said his crimes were, according to The Next Web.
The IDF continued to tweet information about its military response to Hamas bombing, including the possibility that it would launch a ground invasion if necessary, throughout the skirmishes early days.
This is the first time a government has announced it was launching an attack using Twitter, according to Fast Company.
Poe acknowledged that allowing Hamas to continue to tweet information might help Israel, as well as the U.S., to be aware of the what the terrorist organization is either planning to do or in the process of doing, but that posed a questionable moral choice.
“They communicate with other terrorists and promote immediate violence against Americans and other people throughout the world,” Poe said on Fox News in September.
“These groups don’t have the right to use an American company to promote terrorism throughout the world and that’s why we have requested that they not be allowed to use these Twitter accounts.”
“So it’s a trade-off,” he added. “You have to make up your mind whether or not you want the information or you want not to allow them to promote terrorism.”
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