An Arabic-language Facebook page called the “Third Palestinian Intifada,” has declared May 15, 2011, as the beginning of a third Palestinian intifada, modeled after the First and Second Intifadas, but inspired by the recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.
The page incites Facebook members from around the world to participate in a struggle for the liberation of Palestine. While there are no direct calls for violence, some posts hint at the need for violence, with a post, for example, proclaiming that the blood of martyrs will free them. Perhaps recognizing the underlying violent nature of part of its call, the group threatens that if Facebook bans its page, all Muslims will boycott the website as a result, writing:
In addition to Facebook, the group is also utilizing a Twitter page with over 1,900 followers, as well as a YouTube channel. However, the Twitter page has only two tweets, both in English, one being “Free Palestine,” and the other promoting the date of the Intifada. The group's lack of use of Twitter indicates that Facebook is viewed by the group founders, as a better platform, as the vast majority of its social networking activity resides there. Further illustrating this point, the group’s YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/thirdintifada, is equally bare, hosting only two English-language videos, depicting Palestinian suffering while denouncing Israel and Jews.
“Third Palestinian Intifada” Twitter page and YouTube channel
From Facebook to the Jihadi Forums
Awareness of the page has spread to jihadist forums, where it is being promoted. On March 6, Abu Yusuf al-Basheer, a prominent member of jihadi forums, posted a message on the main al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadi forum, Shumookh al-Islam, announcing the creation of the Facebook page. He mobilized other forum members to join and share the link to the page, and he then posted a second message with a three day agenda for the movement, which is as follows:
“May 13 – Friday of the Horn
“May 14 – Saturday of the Roar
On March 7, administrators outlined their goal in the vein of the previous ones, with goal to “liberate Palestine”:
“The neighboring countries will start a march to Palestine on the 15th of May after that all the Muslim countries will march soon, Palestine will be liberated and we are the ones who will free it. Our goal now is to reach millions of viewers to this page before May, please spread this page everywhere; we are coming Palestine.”
Although the page does not appear to call for violence explicitly, some postings doing intimate that violence is necessary. For example, the page includes postings calling for martyrdom, such as a post on March 16 which states that paradise is beckoning for martyrs who defend Muslims:
“Paradise beckons you to tell everyone about 5/15.... Do not say you can’t, and if the time comes to aid Muslims in this ephemeral world, then we will not benefit but from the martyrdom that beckons you.”
Other posts by the administrator are more explicit in their calls for violence, like a poem posted on March 6, which threatens death:
“Sorry: Palestine is not for rent
Beware: The people of Palestine are strong
Stop: But know that you have defiled our land
And revenge will be the hellfire
Warning: the men of Palestine are men of revolution
In another posting on March 21, administrators of the page posted a Hadith frequently used by militant groups to call for violence against Jews:
Others inspired by the page created new pages in support of the cause, some with a violent tone. For example, one page was created by a group called, “Arabs Prepared to Fight in the Cause of Liberating Palestine. How Many of Us Are There?” which calls for 2,000,000 mujahideen to join the fight.
Image from “The Third Intifada” Facebook Wall
After attracting supporters, “The Third Palestinian Intifada” uses Facebook to great effect in organizing and guiding them. For instance, three posts on March 24 provide the agenda for each day of protests. In a sign of the importance of using Facebook to the group, the website's link along with the Facebook logo are at the bottom.
The agenda lists specific activities for “Palestinians and the Free” in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, Arab countries, Turkey, and the West, including Europe and the United States, and provides the time, the place of gathering, and the intended activity for the three days leading up to the beginning of the alleged Third Intifada on May 15.
For instance, on May 13, the agenda instructs “Palestinians and the Free in Egypt” to gather at Tahrir Square following Friday prayers to raise the Palestinian flag and burn the Israeli flag. The activity is the same for that day in every location. The agenda can be seen in the following flyer posted on the group's Facebook wall:
The activities are more diverse on May 14. The agenda tells those in Israel and the Palestinian Territories to “spread the word of the wave of uprisings for a day of liberation,” and tells those in bordering countries to protest near the Palestinian border. Meanwhile, it tells those in Europe to “sail with the boats of the Freedom Flotilla,” and those in the United States and elsewhere to raise aid for Palestine.
Plans for May 15 are similar, instructing followers to go to the most important Palestinian towns and, notably, for the Lebanese to cross the border into Israel.
Each of these agendas, uploaded as images, generated thousands of replies, many condoning violence against Jews. For instance, on March 24, an Algerian fan “Hamza Fcm” wrote:
“They are coming, O dogs... across the sea... the sky... they come for you... house to house... road to road... individual to individual... we will stomp upon you with our soles and spread your blood, O Jews, across the nations.”
Appearing to try to effect the same type of protests that have spread across the Middle East, the authors of this Facebook page are shrewdly using social networking, just as others did in Tunisia and Egypt. However, unlike those other uprisings, “The Third Palestinian Intifada” is calling upon Muslims from all over the world in numerous countries to participate in the cause. Furthermore, despite the mostly non-violent content on the page, there are nonetheless some troubling calls for violence, perhaps indicating that if the page is successful in generating a public response, violence could become an accepted tactic by protestors.