Israel’s “civil emergency,” declared on October 7, 2023, turbocharged the state’s already existing laws that silence the political expression of Palestinian Jerusalemites.1
As described in a previous Jerusalem Story article, since October 7, Israel has been taking extraordinary measures to punish expressions of sympathy for Palestinians in Gaza, who have been undergoing massive Israeli bombardment. Israel has given authority to the police and military forces to arrest, deport, and seize the property of Palestinians in Israel and in Jerusalem who criticize the state, on the premise that they may harm “national morale” during the war on Gaza.2 They can be intimidated, harassed, detained, and prosecuted for expressing their views online. Even a mere “like” on social media platforms for content by entities related to Hamas or ISIL could get one in serious trouble.
“The police stopped me three times these past two weeks on my way back from school and demanded to see my phone,” shared Gino [a pseudonym], a 17-year-old Palestinian Jerusalemite, on October 27, 2023.3 “I told them I don’t have a phone, but they demanded that I raise my hands and proceeded to search my pockets.” Gino’s mother said she doesn’t let her son carry his phone outdoors anymore, knowing that the police may search it at any moment. “He doesn’t post anything on social media,” she stressed.4 “But we have become really paranoid due to their extensive inspections.”