A report says the Israeli intelligence has sent a threatening text message to scores of Palestinians, warning them against taking part in anti-Israel protests.
An Israeli plan for the forced expulsion of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of al-Quds has been the trigger for the protests. And the situation has been tense due to the hostile treatment of Palestinians by Israeli troops and settlers.
Israeli forces have attacked Palestinian worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque three times in the past four days.
The Middle East Eye (MEE) said on Tuesday that many in the Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds had reported receiving a threatening text over the past 24 hours.
“Hello! You have been identified to have taken part in violent acts at al-Aqsa Mosque. We will hold you accountable. - Israeli intelligence,” the message reads, according to the MEE.
The text message is viewed by many activists as an attempt to deter Palestinians from going to the mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.
Rama Yousef Salah, a journalist who has been covering events in Sheikh Jarrah and al-Aqsa Mosque over the past week, said she received the message on Monday evening.
“I laughed about it and sent it to my friends, and then I realized they had it too,” she said, adding, “Then I shared it to social media, and people said that it was sent to everyone near al-Aqsa... even people who were at home.”
Ezzat Natsheh, a 35-year-old actor from Jerusalem al-Quds, was also sent the message on Tuesday morning.
“I was not afraid of the message. I took it as a joke,” he said. “Because, really? You want to punish me because I was in al-Aqsa or Sheikh Jarrah? If you want me, you can send me legal papers.”
Many Palestinians believe the number of people who received the message and their proximity to al-Aqsa suggest some form of involvement of Israeli authorities.
“It is most likely that the Israeli intelligence uses a GPS system, in order to be able to know who was in the al-Aqsa Mosque at this time,” said Mona Shtaya, local advocacy manager at 7amleh, a Palestinian digital rights organization.
She noted that the technology had been in place since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic under the “pretext of public health,” but was now being used by Israeli authorities to “track people’s locations and threaten them.”
Lubna, a lawyer based in Jerusalem al-Quds, denounced the suspected use of location tracking.
“It is important to note that GPS is not 100 percent accurate, so it’s targeting people who were not even at al-Aqsa,” the MEE cited the lawyer as saying.
“GPS is not enough evidence to prove in courts that you were there at the time, so these intimidating texts are completely wrong.”
“During Ramadan, loads of Muslims go to al-Aqsa, it’s their place of worship. The use of these texts is thuggish behavior and does not follow proper laws.”
ubna believes in an undaunted Palestinian population in the face of such threats.
“We are a nation that has faced house demolitions, evictions, and getting fired from positions, yet we still resist and carry on.”