To combat a wave of lone-wolf attacks Israel arrested hundreds of Palestinian youth suspected of being potential would-be-terrorists over the last 18 months. Many, if not most of the Palestinians arrested were singled out by a computerized predictive system developed by Israeli authorities. According to Israeli officials some of the persons were arrested on their way to commit an attack, but others may not have even fully decided to commit one by the time they were arrested.

Given they cannot be convicted for crimes they have not yet committed, some of the Palestinians suspected of being potential terrorists were charged with incitement on social media in Israeli courts-martial in the West Bank.

While the methodologies applied by Israel and their scale seem unique, use of predictive policing is on the rise globally, with many multinational companies offering relevant products to law enforcement and security agencies. Also on the rise is the use of technological surveillance tools monitoring social media services and arrests of individuals for incitement on social media.

The latter is particularly true to the European Union, with some member states having arrested dozens of individuals for incitement on social media in recent years. Facing high-impact attacks by individuals inspired by extremist agendas that resulted in hundreds of casualties, the EU has put into place new counterterrorism legislation that gives much leeway to government surveillance, including on social media platforms. In 2016 EU officials expressed wishes to use Israeli methodologies and technologies in combating lone-wolf terror repeatedly in visits to Israel and in meetings with Israeli security officials.

Team members

Staffan Dahllöf

Staffan Dahllöf is a freelance reporter based in Copenhagen, specialised in FOI.

Staffan Dahllöf

Hagar Shezaf

Hagar Shezaf, an Israeli journalist.

Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker is a European (Irish) journalist based in Brussels specialising in EU policy and legislation in the technology sector.

Orr Hirschauge

Orr Hirschauge is an Israeli tech journalist and editor in chief at CTech by Calcalist.

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