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​Arab Israelis fired from jobs for criticizing Gaza offensive on Facebook - NGO

Published time: August 16, 2014 17:39
Israeli soldiers celebrate on board their Merkava tank near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip as they return from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave on August 5, 2014 (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

Israeli soldiers celebrate on board their Merkava tank near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip as they return from the Hamas-controlled Palestinian coastal enclave on August 5, 2014 (AFP Photo/Thomas Coex)

Arab Israelis are being sacked from their jobs for criticizing their country’s actions in Gaza on Facebook. There is no exact number, but it is thought that dozens have been affected, according to to a local NGO.

The New Israel Fund made the claim after Palestinian workers came to them after requesting assistance after they had been fired for posting negative comments about Israel’s offensive in Gaza, the i100 news website reports.

This has been a real problem since the start of the conflict, and it is completely illegal. Israeli employment law does not allow employees to be terminated for expressing their political views. This is about private opinions expressed outside the workplace,” said Steven Beck, who is the director of international relations at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

At least 25 pages on Facebook have been set up to try and punish unpatriotic Israelis. With names such as ‘Exposing the Traitors” and “Not in our Schools”, names, photos and the places of work are posted of those who do not agree with Israel’s policy. It is also asked that their employees sack them.

Beck added that since Israel started its campaign in Gaza, those who oppose it are seen as traitors “by certain segments of the population”, making it hard for dissenters to make their voices heard.

There are many in Israel who do not want to get painted this way so as a result there is very little space for debate. Employers might be trying to avoid larger problems in their organizations or even seeing it as a way of protecting employees from themselves, but at the end of the day it is illegal. Freedom of expression is the foundation of any democracy and as a principle it needs to be strong enough to withstand even speech that is difficult to hear,” Beck stated, speaking to the i100.

Last month a municipal worker Isra Gara –an Arab – was fired for welcoming the death of 13 Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Three other Israeli Arabs - a doctor and nurse at two different hospitals and an employee of the Safed municipality - have been suspended for critical comments on social media, Haaretz reported.

Despite making up a fifth of Israel’s population, many Arab Israeli’s say they experience discrimination, despite having exactly the same rights as Israeli Jews.

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