The conflict between Palestine and Israel, which has not been resolved until now, has provoked many reactions from international actors to defend the Palestinian government and society as the party most harmed by Israel’s cruelty by having no conscience in attacking Palestine, which has sacrificed many innocent lives. In the digital era, reactions from many international actors are conveyed through digital platforms to defend Palestine, starting from non-state actors such as online activism and state actors using websites and social media to influence and collaborate with various international actors. Apart from that, there is a lot of support for Palestine, a lot of support is provided by the state ranging from finance, perception, and others through digital, but on the other side of all this there are challenges that must be faced.
Response of International Actors in Digital Platforms
It is very interesting to see the view given by Amnesty International as an international organization that defends all matters regarding human rights in the conflict between Palestine and Israel. This organization has commented a lot about social media being a dangerous platform for sending hate content and other dangerous content to each other carried out by various international actors, both non-state and state actors, in violation of international human rights law which has resulted in unprecedented levels of civilian casualties. happened before (Amnesty International 2023).
On the between humanity and the law of the jungle”, continued by the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir on October 17 2023 stating that “As long as Hamas does not release the prisoners in its hands, the only thing that needs to enter Gaza is hundreds of tons of explosives from the Air Force, not ounce of humanitarian assistance” (Amnesty International 2023). Meanwhile, according to the Violence Indicator, the Palestinian NGO 7amleh detected more than 493,000 cases of hate advocacy content against Palestinians and Palestinian rights advocates on social media on October 7 2023. From mutual attacks on social media, there were many innocent civilian victims, especially from Palestinians around more than 7,000 people.
From the fight on social media, this organization pressures social media provider companies to manage dangerous content that gives hatred to Israel and Palestine. But in practice, a lot of content that supports Palestine receives unfair treatment, namely “shadow banning” from companies providing social media. The existence of shadow banning means that Palestinians are trapped in an increasing communication blackout, limiting their ability to search for, receive and convey information due to unbalanced content moderation by social media companies (Amnesty International 2023; Shankar, Dixit, and Siddiqui 2023).
Support for Palestine on digital platforms, some actors are in the spotlight, namely online activism. Activists supporting Palestine try to maximize digital platforms to share stories about the violence and oppression they experience from the Israeli state. They try hard to tell the true reality of their lives, but they have to face the power of the Israeli state which carries out the spread of disinformation, manipulation of discourse, and social media censorship (CIVICUS staff 2022; Tesson 2023). Tough decisions have been placed on social media companies that require them to resist pressure from the Israeli state and ensure that Palestinians can tell their truth without being censored, but the reality on the ground is otherwise. The violence experienced is very inhumane, including forced eviction from their homes and restrictions on their freedom of movement and this violence has been going on for a long time. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli forces destroyed approximately 8,400 Palestinian residences between 2009 and 2022, resulting in the displacement of more than 12,000 people (CIVICUS staff 2022).
Digital platforms such as social media have become the right tool as a means of defence against attacks by soldiers and cruel settlers by sharing videos about the realities they experience and have experienced success in getting the attention of many international communities. This success occurred on social media such as Times of Gaza and Eye on Palestine which are devoted to news about Palestine and have gained millions of followers on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok (CIVICUS staff 2022). The reaction of social media users in the international arena attracted a lot of attention when President Trump revealed his unreasonable plans regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which led to the hashtag Free Palestine becoming the top trending on Twitter with around 60,000 tweets in a short time and week-long campaign of destruction in Gaza in May. 2021 resulted in more than 200 Palestinian deaths and once again led to the hashtag Free Palestine trending and around 12.3 million hashtag views per hour as people shared videos of the bombings (CIVICUS staff 2022).
The existence of movements on social media has increased the international community’s sense of empathy with pro-Palestinian demonstrations taking place throughout the world which have received attention from US officials for the first time by criticizing the Israeli state’s actions to stop US military funding for Israel, even though its officials are from minority parties (CIVICUS staff 2022; Tesson 2023). It is also unusual for Western media to be so deeply sympathetic to Palestine. However Palestinian activists still face obstacles because Israel has succeeded in putting pressure on several social media companies to censor, suppress and delete content from Palestinians and their supporters. This happened because Facebook admitted to doing so during the May 2021 hostilities, but Facebook was reluctant to comment (CIVICUS staff 2022).
Nadim Nashif an Executive Director and Co-Founder of 7amleh said that many Palestinian movements are considered by the US and Israel to be terrorists which means they are prohibited from being active on social media. The ban happened to a teenager who defended Palestine on Facebook to defend his right to worship at the Al-Aqsa mosque which resulted in him being imprisoned because Israel was cunningly doing everything it could by making regulations such as the Facebook law which gives Israeli courts the power to demand the removal of content on Facebook. social media platforms that are deemed to damage or endanger the security of the state, person or society and the perpetrators may be sent to court for trial without being able to defend themselves (CIVICUS staff 2022). Content supporting Palestine will continue to be monitored by the Israeli Cyber Unit and approximately 90 percent of the content will be removed. Apart from that, Israel has another cunning strategy, namely they create a narrative as if they are a popular party by manipulating actions such as comments, quote tweets, retweets and complaints as agents of disinformation (CIVICUS staff 2022).
Collaboration to Support Palestine
The existence of digital also increases collaboration in supporting Palestine, whether from the government or the private sector, with several international actors seeing the potential of technology in Palestine. This potential can be seen from the many Palestinians who are educated and fluent in English as well as the birth of many local technology companies that help young entrepreneurs realize their dreams and increase the capabilities of the technology workforce, even though the technology ecosystem has not yet been fully formed. In the last decade, international funds have managed to enter Palestine to improve the technology sector, but unfortunately, of the many technology graduates in Palestine, around 2,500 graduates, do not have wide access to large technology companies (Anera 2022; Tarazi 2022). Internet access and capabilities need to be improved because the need for the Internet is increasing for remote work and education activities, carrying out transactions, paying water bills, and so on. Apart from that, many of the programs carried out are assisted by international organizations such as Anera and WACC which purely want to help Palestine, one of which is in the field of technology. Not only that, other assistance is provided by Google with Udacity and Spark called the ProgramPalestine Launchpad which aims to help Palestinian technology graduates and entrepreneurs improve their capabilities by graduating 3,500 Palestinians from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem to address the talent and employment gap. The program will start in 2023 to 2026 with funding amounting to 10 million dollars (Arabic 2023; Spark 2023; Press Release 2023).
Behind the suffering experienced by Palestine, a lot of aid and support is provided, especially driven by technology, support is increasing, but the big obstacle from the existence of Israeli rule is sabotaging the Palestinian technological system, but that does not hinder Palestinian supporters in providing assistance and support. Even several international actors saw the technological potential that existed in Palestine and dared to provide financial assistance. This reflects that Palestine is not a weak country, they have high potential, but until now no one has dared to significantly condemn Israel’s actions. If collaboration not only provides aid and support to Palestine but collaboration to condemns Israel, then it will become a weapon that Israel cannot avoid. Apart from that, what is no less important is that social media companies should not be regulated by a country in organizing content.