| Summary |
In May 2021, 7amleh was confronted with a sudden increase in digital rights violations by social media companies and the Israeli authorities. The 7amleh team jointly put their efforts into creating a Google Form to document and monitor these digital rights violations in six-languages. The results of this were published in the report “The Attacks on Palestinian Digital Rights”. 7amleh’s pressure on Facebook ,regarding their content moderation of Palestinian content, resulted in an independent review of these content moderation policies. Later in the year the 7or Platform – the first open source online platform to monitor, document and follow up on the digital rights violations of Palestinians (pronounced as Hur, Arabic for ‘free’) was published in November in order to more efficiently and effectively monitor and analyze digital rights violations of Palestinians. Additionally, 7amleh continued raising awareness on digital rights issues through evidence-based research, participation in webinars, digital campaigns and advocacy. 7amleh’s annual 4-day Palestine Digital Activism Forum (PDAF) 2021 focusing on digital rights during the coronavirus had more than 1600 Participants from over 70 countries. Furthermore, 7amleh has published a first of its kind, research on the reality of privacy and data protection in Palestine, and advocated around the need for a Palestinian law on privacy and data protection.
| 7amleh in Numbers |
Video views on social media:
Engagement on Social Media:
Palestine Digital Activism Forum attendees:
Reports of Digital Rights Violations to "7or":
Accounts and posts successfully reinstated or secured:
Organizations’ needs assessed:
Engagements in conferences and webinar:
| Research |
Guide to Digital Safety and Privacy at Peaceful Protests
In December, 7amleh published the online guide “Digital Safety and Privacy at Peaceful Protests” on digital surveillance technologies in peaceful protests, based on a context-specific research study on surveillance in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and Palestinian towns and cities in Israel. The guide, done in cooperation with Privacy International, is a guide on surveillance technologies used during peaceful protests.
The Impact of Digital Surveillance in East Jerusalem on Palestinian Rights
In November, 7amleh published the report “Intensification of Surveillance in East Jerusalem and Impact on Palestinian Resident’s Rights: Summer and Fall 2021” analysing the impact of digital surveillance and biometric monitoring in East Jerusalem. The increasing surveillance does not only affect Palestinians’ right to privacy, but also freedom of movement and is causing a decline in civil and political rights.
Perception of Palestinian Civil Society Organizations
In October, 7amleh published the report “The Palestinian Public’s Perception of Palestinian Civil Society Organizations” analyzing how the Palestinian public views the work of Civil Society Organizations in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and Israel. The research found that almost half of the survey participants can sense the impact of civil society organizations.
Assessment of the Digital Performance of Palestinian NGOs
In October, 7amleh published “Needs Assessment: Palestinian Civil Society Organizations’ Digital Performance: Needs and Challenges” analyzing the digtial activity of Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and Israel. The report found that more than half of the organizations do not have a dedicated budget for social media work. The findings were presented to numerous organizations in the Gaza Strip in November.
Hate Speech on Social Media Platforms Among Palestinians
In September 7amleh published the report “Hateful Network”, which monitors hate speech among Palestinians on social media, and how this impacts digital rights. The report illustrates that more than ⅔ of Palestinians were exposed to hate speech on social media.
Reality of Privacy and Data Protection in Palestine
In August, 7amleh published the exploratory study “The Reality of Privacy and Digital Data Protection in Palestine” during a study day dedicated to the issue of privacy and data protection for Palestinians. The first of its kind analysis of privacy and digital data protection in Palestine and their violations, showing a strong interest in the Palestinian public for a law dedicated to protecting privacy and data protection. 7amleh participated in an event of the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Palestine (ICHRP) based on the results of this research in December.
Guide for Journalists on Reporting Digital Rights Issues
In June 7amleh published “Reporting Digital Rights: Guide for Journalists on Reporting Digital Rights Issues” combining 7amleh’s insights on reporting of digital rights issues. It features simple and accessible tips aiming to contribute to a better, more equitable and ethical news reporting on Palestine.
Digital Rights Violations Against Children & Youth in Jerusalem
In June, 7amleh published the Position Paper “Protecting Children: Digital Rights Violations Against Jerusalem Children & Youth”, which analyses the digital rights situation in East Jerusalem against the backdrop of the Israeli annexation of Jerusalem, and found that 87% of children and youth stay away from political expression online due to fear of repercussions. The position paper concludes with recommendations on protecting Palestinian childrens’ and youths’ digital rights in Jerusalem.
Hashtag Palestine 2020: An Overview of Digital Rights Abuses of Palestinians during the Coronavirus Pandemic
In April, 7amleh published "Hashtag Palestine 2020" an annual publication that gives an overview of digital rights violations by authorities and corporations throughout the year. In particular, Hashtag Palestine 2020 focused on how the coronavirus pandemic has increased Palestinian digital rights violations.
Mapping Digital Rights in the Middle East and North Africa
In March, 7amleh in cooperation with Innovation for Change Middle East and North Africa (I4C MENA) published the research “Mapping Digital Rights in the Middle East and North Africa Region” analyzing the status of digital rights in Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia as a basis for joint advocacy.
Index of Racism and Incitement 2020
In March, 7amleh published the ”Index of Racism and Incitement 2020”, an annual publication that analyses Hebrew content inciting and advocating for violence against Palestinians in public social media pages. According to the research, 2020 saw a 16% increase in violent speech against Arabs and Palestinians, with one of every 10 posts including incitement against Arabs, and the coronavirus pandemic caused a 21% increase in racist discourse.
| May Escalations |
In May 2021 there was a growing movement within Palestinian groups against the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision to forcibly remove Palestinians in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, in favor of Jewish settler families who claim to be the owners of these properties. During this time, it became apparent that social media companies were removing Palestinian content from platforms, often without clear reasons or violations. In a rapid escalation, hundreds of posts and accounts documenting these violations began disappearing on Social Media Platforms.
Reporting on the Attacks on Palestinian Digital Rights
In May, 7amleh documented over 668 reports of censorship and incitement on social media from the public. These reports were submitted to social media companies that 7amleh has partnerships with including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Whatsapp. A summary of the reports and the responses of the technology companies were published in the report “The Attacks on Palestinian Digital Rights”, which covered the period between 6-19 May, when there was an increase in online and offline violence in Palestine due to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and efforts to forcibly displace thousands of Palestinians from East Jerusalem. In order to reach a wider audience, the report was translated to Polish, French, German, and Spanish.
Incitement on the Internet - May 2021
In May 7amleh conducted research into Israeli incitement to violence against Palestiinians online. This research was developed using the same methodology as used in the “Index of Racism and Incitement.” During May 6 - 21 the research showed a 15-fold increase in violent speech compared to the same period of time last year.
| Monitoring of Digital Rights Violations |
7or - The Palestinian Observatory of Palestinian Digital Rights Violations
On November 1, 2021 7amleh launched ‘7or’ (pronounced ‘Hur’, ‘free’ in Arabic), the first open-source online platform to monitor, document and follow up on digital rights violations of Palestinians. This database collects reports of digital rights violations of Palestinians of different categories, including content moderation issues on social media platforms, gender-based violence, fake news, hate speech, hacking, incitement and smear campaigns. Between January 1 and December 31, 2021 a total of 1033 violations were documented. Additionally to the monitoring, documentation and analysis of digital rights violations data, 7amleh is in regular contact with social media companies in order to challenge digital rights violations on the respective platforms, through which 144 accounts have been restored, 31 accounts secured, and 9 incidents of smearing and inciting content have been removed.
Digital Rights Violations Reports
Based on the data collected through the database and it’s precursor, 7amleh has been publishing regular reports on the violations of Palestinian digital rights.
7amleh regularly publishes Quarterly Reports outlining the violations of Palestinian digital rights, analysing the kind of violations and repercussions on digital rights. In the “Quarterly Violations Report: June - August 2021” 7amleh documented a total of 116 violations between June and August 2021. In order to reach a wider audience, the report was translated to Polish, French, German, Spanish. In the “Quarterly Violations Report: September - November 2021” 7amleh documented a total of 80 violations on the different social media platforms.
Additionally to the reports of digital rights violations reported to 7amleh, 7amleh continues monitoring the media about Palestinian digital rights. On a weekly basis 7amleh shared the most important Palestinian digital rights news with the public through our Digital Rights Weekly Updates.
7amleh continued to advocate for digital rights to be upheld by the Palestinian Authority. In June, 7amleh participated in a coordination meeting between various civil society organizations and the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 7amleh contributed by sharing its work on Palestinian digital rights. 7amleh was also also selected to be part of the newly established Palestinian National Digital Rights Committee, which was initiated by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology. The committee consists of representatives from the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and many other Palestinian ministries. In May, 7amleh supported the participation of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, in the first meeting between the Prime Minister’s Office and Facebook. 7amleh also met with the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology to coordinate efforts and to ensure the participation of civil society organizations in policy development and review processes of the Palestinian government. In April, as part of the Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition (PDRC), 7amleh condemned the Palestinian Preventive Security Service's involvement in privacy-infiltration activities as well as targeting journalists, people opposed to the government, activists, human rights defenders and other groups on Facebook and other platforms.
Submissions on Disinformation and Fake News
Together with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) 7amleh submitted a statement with APC to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Expression about disinformation and fake-news, and called on the United Nations to condemn the spreading of disinformation and fake news by authorities.
Submission to United Nations Human Rights Council
7amleh submitted a statement with APC to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the violations of Palestinian digital rigths, highlighting the findings of dramatic increase in digital rights violations in May 2021 during Israel’s aggression on the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.
As part of 7amleh’s advocacy work, 7amleh held human rights briefings at several EU missions in Palestine.
Parliamentary Question to the European Union
In May, 7amleh submitted a parliamentary question to the EU noting that social media companies, Facebook Instagram and Twitter admitted to blocking accounts that posted pro-Palestinian content and deleted posts related. 7amleh further brings to attention the over 600 documented cases of censorship between the 6th and 19st of May showing that these were not isolated cases, but a deliberate effort on the part of social media companies working with Israeli authorities.
Digital Service Act Working Group
In June, 7amleh joined a working group on the Digital Service Act, initiated by Access Now, with a number of civil society organizations and are working to ensure that freedom of expression will be protected with this new legislation.
Legislators on Automated Terrorist Content Censorship Online
In April, 7amleh submitted a letter to the Members of the European Parliament, jointly, with 69 human rights and media organizations, urging them to reject the new EU Online Terrorist Content Law. The letter highlights how the use of automated tools to remove ‘terrorist content’ will not be able to sufficiently differentiate between terrorist content and educational and news materials as well as documentation of human rights violations, and thus will endanger freedom of expression and speech.
7amleh has continued to participate in Facebook’s ‘Trusted Partner’ program and to contribute to the development and evaluation of Facebook policies. This included policies about peaceful protests, focusing on how violence at public protests is moderated; a policy discussion on LGBTQ+, discussing whether products such as rainbow backgrounds, smileys etc. should be available globally; and participated in a roundtable on brigading and mass harassment.
Since November 2020, 7amleh, in cooperation with local and international partners, has been advocating to Facebook to not to change their hate speech policy and equate the word ‘Zionist’ with ‘Jewish’ therefore limiting political speech criticizing zionists. The campaign “Facebook, We Need to Talk” included a petition, which almost 60,000 people signed, a webinar in Arabic as well as English discussing the issues.
Response to Increase of Censorship
In May, 7amleh published a statement with the MENA Content Moderation Coalition, sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO, held a meeting with Facebook Executives, jointly called on Facebook to stop the censorship of Palestinian content. In September, 7amleh along with partner organizations, signed a statement welcoming the recent division by Facebook’s Oversight Board on Facebook’s unjustified removal of news content related to April-May’s bout of violence in Palestine and Israel under its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations (DIO). Additionally, in October, pressure resulted in Facebook announcing a comprehensive and independent examination of Facebook's Arabic and Hebrew content management policies.
Twitter and 7amleh Partnership Established
In June 2021, 7amleh signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Twitter becoming a member of its Trust and Safety Council, and, in particular, the Human and Digital Rights Advisory Group. As a member, 7amleh is advising Twitter on the impact of their policies on human and digital rights, and advocating for adherence to digital rights.
Google Maps Blurs the Gaza Strip
During the latest Israeli attack on Gaza in May 2021, GoogleMaps showed Gaza territories out of focus and unclear. Therefore, the impact of Israeli bombardment and the large-scale destruction caused by it, could not be documented by human rights defenders through the mapping tool. In response, 7amleh together with Kairos Palestine launched a petition to urge Google to update their maps.
Racism in Google Search
7amleh wrote to Google to address how its search for "what do terrorists wear on their head" returns ,as the first result, the Palestinian kaffiyeh, a traditional headdress.
Incitement to Violence Against Palestinians
7amleh submitted cases of incitement to Telegram through the Tech Against Terrorism platform and successfully had several groups that were organizing violence against Palestinians and Arabs closed down.
Palestinian Organizations Deplatformed
7amleh continued to campaign for PayPal to provide Palestinians with access to their platform and to respect their right to non-discrimination and to access the digital economy. This included working together with 22 human and digital rights organizations, to submit a letter to PayPal and Venmo reprimanding their policy of closing and freezing accounts in a discriminatory manner.
Palestinians Denied Access
7amleh submitted a letter to Stripe asking the company to open access to Palestinians. The request was rejected by Stripe in a letter where the company stated that, “While it sounds great, unfortunately we're going to have to pass. As a growing company, we are simply unable to participate in all the great opportunities that come our way.” However, the company did not share why or how they came to their decision to not provide Palestinians access to their platform.
Hacking of human rights defenders
In November, 7amleh condemned the hacking of six Palestinian human rights defenders with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, which caused concern about the possible involvement of Israeli authorities in this ongoing attack on Palestinian civil society.
| Campaigns |
7amleh continued to campaign for PayPal to provide Palestinians with access to their platform and to respect their right to non-discrimination and to access the digital economy, by relaunching the #PayPal4Palestine campaign in coordination with a group of human rights organizations, including a dedicated mini-webpage and a letter-campaign through which 1066 letters have been sent directly to PayPal so far, and more than 177,000 people signing the petition, as well as a webinar with more than 1400 views on the Facebook live-feed. Two open letters have been sent to PayPal, one of them with the signature of 55 local as well as international civil society organizations and another with the signature of 72 Palestinian private sector representatives. Additionally, 7amleh’s Executive Director Nadim Nashif and Mohammad Badarneh, met with the Palestinian Monetary Authority on November 9, 2021 to discuss updates regarding PayPal's policy in the occupied Palestinian territory and both 7amleh and the PMA's roles in advocating PayPal to grant Palestinians access.
Palestinians and Palestine are often portrayed very negatively in the international media. The projecct “Untold Palestine” aims to show Palestine and Palestinians from a different angle by expanding the presence of unique stories designed to provide nuance and multidimensional representation of Palestine and Palestinian initiatives on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
In September 7amleh published a series on cyber bullying with parenting expert Rabab Qirbi (in Arabic), to raise awareness on the issue of cyberbullying and give tips and recommendations to parents on how to best protect and/ or intervene to protect their children. The series of 3 videos, which engaged more than 100,000 people and had more than 200,000 video views throughout social media channels, is available on Youtube in Arabic.
Podcast on Digital Security
In October 7amleh launched the podcast series The Last Line" (in Arabic), which sheds light on various issues related to digital rights, digital security and other topics, by hosting specialists in each of the eight episodes of the podcast.
Parenting in the Digital World Campaign
In May 7amelh released a digital security campaign for parents titled, “Parenting in the Digital World” to raise awareness and educate parents on how to ensure their children are digitally safe. The campaign featured a series of videos in Arabic keeping parents up to date with the developments in the digital world and how to keep their children safe online.
Digital Security Campaign for Palestinian Youth
In response to a need for digital security content aimed specifically at Palestinian youth in Arabic, 7amleh published a social media campaign with ten videos. The videos covered diverse digital security issues such as two-factor authentication, safe browsing, and focused specifically on practical tips and recommendations and reached more than 420,000 video views. The whole series in Arabic is available on Youtube.
| Capacity Building |
Study Day - Digital Safety for Children and Youth in Jerusalem
Based on its 2020 needs assessment “Digital Safety Among Jerusalemite Children & Youth”, which analyzed the needs and capacities of East Jerusalemite children and youth regarding digital safety, 7amleh held the study day “Digital Safety for Children and Youth in Jerusalem”. The study day brought together experts to discuss experiences, best practices and a way forward for digital rights education in Jerusalem.
Gender-Sensitive Digital Security
Between January and December 2021, 7amleh held 40 digital security workshops with a total of 909 participants (161 men/ boys, 754 women/ girls). 67% of workshops were held in Jerusalem, 25% in the West Bank, and 8% in Gaza. 39-year old Maysa Mohammad Shalah concluded: “The workshop was special and the training great, I am waiting for the second part”. 15-year old Razan Al-Hindi stated that she “learned how to manage my phone’s permissions”. Additionally, between January to April 2021, a total of 3815 Palestinians were trained specifically in East Jerusalem, out of which 2983 are children under 18, 493 are parents and 429 are members of organizations or schools.
Digital Security E-Course
A Digital Security E-Course was launched and has gathered a total of 437 participants so far in 2021. It is still online and also available on Youtube, and will thus continue to build skills beyond the scope of this project.
Digital Storytelling E-Course
On August 15, 2021 7amleh successfully concluded the online ‘Digital Storytelling’ E-Course with trainer Mohammad al-Qaq. A total of 62 participants (39 women/ 23 men) completed the self-guided online course on how to tell a story online through digital means within three weeks and received certificates. The participants stressed that they "hope that there will be more meetings and trainings on this critical topic."
Digital Advocacy Training
In September 7amleh held an Advocacy Training for 21 Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations, in which 33 NGO staff (23 women/ 10 men) were trained to improve the digital advocacy of their respective organizations. Additionally, a digital Advocacy Training for Organizations was held at 7amleh’s headquarter in Haifa in December training 11 representatives of organizations in Israel (8 women/ 3 men).
Training of Trainers on Gender-Sensitive Digital Security Trainings
In order to ensure the availability of diverse trainers on gender-sensitive digital security 7amleh regularly holds trainings of trainers (ToT) to train a new generation of digital security trainers. A five-day training was held between August 26 and September 4, 2021 with the master trainers Ahmad Zayed, Ahmad Diriya and Leqa Daghamen, training a total of 24 new trainers (5 men/ 19 women), who successfully completed the training and are now equipped to hold their own trainings on digital security.
Trainings on Documentation of Digital Rights Violations
As part of the launch of the digital rights violations database 7or, the project coordinator held 5 trainings on the use of the database training 58 people: A training for all of 7amleh’s staff in October, an advanced training for four 7amleh staff in November, a training for 27 social media influencers in November, as well as 14 organizations in two trainings in September and November.
Digital Rights Ambassador Training for Universities
7amleh has launched the "Digital Rights Ambassador" training at the Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, the Arab American University in Jenin, and Birzeit University in Ramallah to train young Palestinians on various aspects of digital rights. Through this project, a total of 85 students at the three universities are being trained on digital rights, digital security, documentation of digital rights violations, hate speech and racism online, and gender-based violence online.
Digital Advocacy and Security Trainings for Organizations
7amleh is currently implementing trainings of a total of 22 organizations in digital advocacy and digital security based on extensive assessments of these organizations’ capacities in these fields. A digital security assessment has been finalized for 8, and a digital advocacy assessment for 14 of these organizations. Based on the assessment, a training curriculum will be designed for the organizations.
Palestine Digital Activism Forum
7amleh’s 5th annual Palestine Digital Activism Forum (PDAF) 2021, focusing on digital rights during and after the coronavirus pandemic, had 1600 attendees from 70 countries over the course of 4 days, more than double than the previous year. This year's forum focused on digital rights during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. The forum included more than 35 digital events, with the participation of 85 speakers and trainers from around the world, and hosted a number of inspiring speakers, such as the Palestinian comedian Amer Zaher, and the youngest Palestinian journalist Jana Jihad, a major social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter. The forum gained more than 400,000 views per person who also watched the live broadcast on social media.
| 7amleh in the Media, Social Media, and External Participation |
7amleh’s work was covered more than 412 times, such as by the Los Angeles Times, TIME, the Guardian, NBC News, Reuters and The Independent, Al-Monitor among other local and regional outlets in the past year. 7amleh’s Advocacy Advisor Mona Shtaya wrote an Op-Ed for the Independent on “The pandemic is being used to normalise government surveillance – Palestinians already know how dangerous this is”, highlighting how the new phenomena of surveillance due to the coronavirus has been long ongoing for Palestinians. 7amleh’s Executive Director Nadim Nashif published a news piece “How Israel turned Palestine into a surveillance tech dystopia” in the Middle East Eye, highlighting the impact of the Israeli surveillance technology on Palestinian digital and human rights.
7amleh’s social media reach and engagement continued to grow in 2021. This includes significant increases in the numbers of followers, and in the engagement and views of content on social media platforms. The follower numbers more than doubled on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok.Throughout 2021, 7amleh’s social media posts engaged more than 1,000,000 people and reached more than two and a half million video views.
Conference and Webinar Participation
In November, 7amleh, in cooperation with the PDRC organized a session in the Bread & Net conference to discuss the May escalations in digital rights violations and their effect; presented the new 7or platform for monitoring and documenting digital rights violations of Palestinians; and about ‘Digital Surveillance Technologies in the Context of the Arab Region’.
In November, 7amleh, jointly with Action Aid, Masarat, and the Alternative Information Center held the closing session of their 4 year programme “Civic and Democratic Participation of Palestinian Youth”, and spoke at the UNESCO Radio Episode “Online Violence Against Palestinian Female Journalists” for the 16-days against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.
In June, 7amleh participated in the 10th RightsCon and organized the following events: “Free speech gatekeepers in the Middle East: automation, content moderation, and the power to delete,” “Disinformation, Deplatforming & Human Rights Defenders: Developing Corrective Guidelines for Financial Services Companies” and “Algorithmic discrimination and its impacts on social mobility of marginalized social groups in Global South.”
In May 7amleh participated in the annual “Stockholm Internet Forum: Promoting Peace in the Age of Compound Risk” 2021 for the fourth time. This included speaking at “Using Social Media to Build Peace and Inclusivity and to Counter Hate Speech”, “Digital Space - The New Frontier of Civic Space” and “Back to Basics: How to Establish Human Rights Centric Platform Governance Where Users Come First.”
In May 7amleh held a live Facebook discussion “Digital Activity and Security in Light of the Israeli Aggression on the Palestinian People” (in Arabic) on digital activism in Arabic and the “Palestinian Narrative: Censorship and Creativity in Time of Crisis” in English.
Additionally, 7amleh participated in several webinars, Facebook live discussions, and podcasts such as “What’s the Future for Palestine” by openDemocracy, and an AlJazeera Live discussion on bias against Palestinian content on social media, “Palestine under Surveillance” of the ‘Rethinking Palestine’ series of al-Shabaka; as well as local and international digital rights event such as the Internet Government Forum (IGF), Witness’ ‘Eyes On Internet Shutdowns, and the Build Palestine Summit.