Police Commissioner Yaakov "Kobi" Shabtai has a novel solution to violence between Arabs and Jews in Israel's mixed cities; he wants the country to shut down social media if a repeat of last year's incidents occurs.
In conversation with Yediot Aharonot, Shabtai stressed that no one had expected the violence to break out and in such force last year, during Operation Guardian of the Walls, and he attributed it largely to the influence of social media such as TikTok.
“Not the police, not the Shin Bet, not the IDF — nobody expected there was going to be unrest in mixed cities,” Shabtai said. Cities such as Lod, Akko, and Ramle where Jews and Arabs live side-by-side, and sometimes even in the same buildings, saw extensive violence last summer.
“The TikTok world burst onto the scene like crazy, and along with what was happening in the Gaza Strip and the missiles fired into Jerusalem, it gave people legitimacy for violence," he added.
During a cabinet meeting discussing the crisis, Shabtai suggested blocking social media networks in order to prevent such sites from fanning the flames, insisting that it would be a legitimate move.
“I am of the opinion that in such situations, blocking the [social] networks is necessary. This is war,” Shabtai told Yediot Aharonot.
“The social networks are the ones that bring people out to the streets. I'm talking about a broad closure of the networks. Shut them down, let the situation simmer down, and when it does, release them. We are a democratic country, but there is a limit.”
"No one does what they want and expects not to get caught the next day. In fact, anyone who uploads a video to Tiktok, it doesn't take long until they find themselves behind bars.”