A Palestinian blogger, who posts short videos on social media related to historical sites of Jerusalem city, is facing the ire of a section of Israeli media as well authorities.
Saleh Zighari, a 24-year-old resident of Jerusalem, has evoked anger of Israelis for filming and posting a nine-minute video of the western wall of the Al-Aqsa compound.
The western wall, known by Muslims as Buraq Wall and the “Wailing Wall” by Jews, is out of bounds for Palestinians.
Therefore, when Zighari posted the video blog, Israeli journalist Omri Haim, working for Kann news, called him “racist Palestinian” and questioned his access to the Jewish holy site.
Israeli police have reportedly launched an investigation against Zighari on the basis of a complaint filed by Btsalmo, a right-wing Jewish advocacy group. A complaint has been also filed with the ombudsman against the video content.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Zighari said he had entered the courtyard below the western wall by chance.
“Police did not take note of my presence or that I was Arab when I passed the main entrance. I was expecting that they will not like the content I create about Jerusalem. They try to obfuscate the truth. This wall is an Islamic wall part of the mosque compound. Israeli forces demolished houses to create space in 1967,” said Zighari.
Responding to the reaction of Israeli media, YouTube deleted the video many times. But a determined Zigrahi kept republishing it after every deletion.
“I received many threats from radical settlers through my social media accounts. They issued death threats. They want to terrorize me, but I don’t care. I will continue creating content to tell the real story of my city to the world,” he added.
Zighari’s interest in videography began in 2013. Four months ago, he launched his YouTube channel and became the first video blogger from Jerusalem. His father is also a photojournalist.
“When I was a child, I used to accompany my dad on his job. I was noting how his fellows and he were working. At that time, I discovered that photography is my passion, and my father supported me,” he said.
The motivation comes from responses received by people, who look keen to know the history of Jerusalem.
Brush with Israeli law not new
Zighari’s brush with the Israelis is not new.
In 2016 Israeli forces detained him for 56 days in solitary confinement. An Israeli court sentenced him to eight months of imprisonment for posting 17 pictures on Instagram. The court ruled that it was incendiary content.
“This obvious incitement reflects attempts by the occupation to destroy youth in Jerusalem, as they have become the influential voices in the city. That’s what the occupation wasn’t expecting. So now they are trying to destroy this rise by trying to intimidate them,” said Abd-Allah Marouf, a teacher of Islamic history at Istanbul’s 29 Mayis University.
“The message the occupation wants to deliver by targeting public figures from the city’s youth is that it is forbidden for them to lead and come out and talk to the world,” he added.
Israel started targeting the content posted by Palestinians in 2015. Israeli security agencies believe that the media content is motivating the resistance and stabbing incidents.
Israel proactive in removing Palestinian content
A study by Sada Social Centre has documented 1,200 incidents when Israelis acted against Palestinian content on the internet in 2020. More than 50 such incidents have been reported in 2021 so far.
“The violations against the Palestinian content related to the incidents on the ground. We launched this initiative proceeding from our need to address the management of social media platforms to defend our right not to attack Palestinian content,” said Iyad al-Refai from Sada Social Centre.
“Most social media platforms are denouncing American law that condemns any content that confirms the right of Palestinians to struggle. So, it is not easy to restore the deleted content. But we try to do our best,” he added.