Israeli police have mistakenly arrested then released a Palestinian who posted “good morning” in Arabic on Facebook after software mistranslated it as “attack them,” police and a media report said Sunday.
Police only confirmed that a Palestinian had been mistakenly arrested then released following suspicions of incitement, but a report in Haaretz newspaper provided further details.
According to the report, which police would neither confirm nor deny, the Palestinian man posted a picture of himself leaning against a bulldozer at the Israeli settlement of Beitar Ilit, where he works, in the occupied West Bank.
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Along with the picture, an Arabic phrase meaning “good morning” was also posted. Facebook’s translation software interpreted the post to mean “attack them” in Hebrew and “hurt them” in English, Haaretz reported.
It was unclear how such a translation error could have been made as there are no apparent similarities between the Arabic expression used for “good morning” and the phrases in Hebrew or English.
Police were notified and the man was arrested last week, the report said. He was released after a few hours when police realised the mistake, it said.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said, “A few days ago, a Palestinian was detained for questioning on suspicion of incitement through his Facebook page.”
She said he was “immediately released” after the suspicions turned out to be false.
Haaretz reported that the Facebook post has since been deleted.