Israel’s parliament has enacted a temporary two-year amendment to the counterterrorism law, introducing a new criminal offence known as the “consumption of terrorist materials.” With a 13-4 majority vote in the Knesset, the amendment revises Article 24 of the counterterrorism law, prohibiting the “systematic and continuous consumption of publications from a terrorist organisation, signifying an affiliation with that group.”
This amendment targets the Palestinian organisation Hamas and the ISIS group as designated “terrorist” organisations. It grants the justice minister the authority to extend this list, subject to approval from the Ministry of Defense and the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee. Violation of this offence can result in a maximum one-year prison term.
The primary aim of this amendment is to combat “lone-wolf terrorism” and radicalisation through media consumption. However, human rights organisations in Israel have criticised it as a form of thought control, with concerns that it might criminalise even passive social media use.
Approximately 1.2 million Palestinians possess Israeli citizenship, constituting around 20% of the country’s population. In response to recent events, Palestinian citizens of Israel have experienced an intensified campaign of arrests related to speech-related offences, particularly on social media platforms, leading to suspensions and expulsions from jobs, universities, and colleges.
Knesset legal adviser Gur Bligh believes that the provision specifying an individual’s identification with the group publishing the content is a safeguard against excessive criminalisation.