Human rights groups say changing Israel’s anti-terrorism law amounts to thought policing.

Israel’s parliament has passed an amendment to the country’s anti-terrorism law that introduces “consumption of terrorist materials” as a new criminal offense.

The bill, approved in the Knesset by a majority of 13 to 4, is a temporary two-year measure that amends Article 24 of the Counterterrorism Law to prohibit the “systematic and continuous consumption of publications by a terrorist organization in circumstances consistent with a terrorist organization.” Identification point out “to prohibit with the terrorist organization”.

It identifies the Palestinian group Hamas and the ISIL group (ISIS) as “terrorist” organizations affected by the crime. It gives the Minister of Justice the authority to add additional organizations to the list in agreement with the Ministry of Defense and with the approval of the Knesset Constitutional, Legal and Justice Committee.

The offense of “consumption of terrorist materials” is punishable by a maximum penalty of one year in prison.

The bill sets out that it aims to address the phenomenon of “lone terrorism,” or the radicalization of individuals through media consumption.

Human rights groups in Israel said it amounted to thought police.

“This law is one of the most intrusive and draconian legislative measures ever passed by the Israeli Knesset, as it subjects thoughts to criminal punishment,” said Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. It warned that the change would criminalize “even passive use of social media” in a climate of surveillance and restrictions on free expression targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel.

“This legislation invades the sacred space of an individual’s personal thoughts and beliefs and significantly increases government surveillance of social media use,” the statement continued. Adalah is sending a petition to the Supreme Court to challenge the bill.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel also sharply criticized the amendment, saying it has “no precedent” in democratic countries and that its interpretation ultimately leaves its interpretation to law enforcement authorities.

About 1.2 million Palestinians have Israeli citizenship and make up about 20 percent of the country’s population.

Since the war began on October 7, Palestinian citizens of Israel have been subjected to an unprecedented campaign of arrests for speech-related offenses, largely based on social media posts. Dozens have been suspended from work or expelled from universities and colleges.

Knesset Counsel Gur Bligh, who had raised concerns about the previous version of the bill, said that the addition of a provision specifying that the person should also identify with the group publishing the content was enough to create an “excessive “Criminalization” was to be avoided, Israeli media reported.

At least 10,569 Palestinians, including 4,324 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip as Israel continues its ground and air offensive that has reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble. According to the United Nations, an estimated 1.5 million people in Gaza are currently internally displaced.

A Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7 killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

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