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Palestinian social media lauds 'Three Schalits' kidnapping
By SARAH GRUEN
17/06/2014
Online Palestinian initiatives celebrate kidnapping of Israelis, encourage prospect of prisoner swaps.
 
Since news broke of the kidnapping of three Israel teenagers, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have been handing out sweets in the streets to passersby and rejoicing the IDF’s unsuccessful efforts to find the boys.

Perhaps more jarring than the revelry in the various Palestinian towns is the online presence of campaigns aimed at celebrating the kidnapping as a possible opportunity for prisoner swaps.

One of these movements, dubbed "Three Schalits," is a social media initiative led by Hamas affiliates. The name is in reference to Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2006 and returned in a 2011 bargain that resulted in the release of over one thousand terrorists, many of them convicted murderers.

The logo of "Three Schalits" depicts a three-fingered salute, most directly in reference to the three boys abducted last Thursday night. It is also a variant of the symbol for the R4BIA, a movement that, among other things, calls for “the return of Muslims to the world stage” and “the end of the Zionists.”

On the "Three Schalits" Facebook page appear dozens of photos of smiling people holding up the three-fingered symbol, many of the sign-bearers young children.

The page has become a site of joyous speculation that the three boys will eventually be used in a prisoner swap that would release terrorists in a manner similar to that of the Schalit exchange.

Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin said the mindset of kidnappings equaling a prisoner exchange is dangerous.“The prisoner releases are the principal motivators for further kidnappings," he said in a statement on Saturday.

Furthermore, the page has been a platform for encouraging young children that kidnapping is cause for celebration rather than outcry, and many Israelis site the Palestinian response to the kidnappings as another failure in educating the young about the importance of peace.

While the site flagrantly differs from its Israeli solidarity counterpart, "Bring Back Our Boys," it also branches from another subset of Palestinian social media aimed at highlighting the plight of people in the territories.

The latter has broadcasted photos of children suffering under occupation to make a point that the Israel is to blame for the terrorists’ actions; "Three Schalits" gives little mention of reason for the kidnapping, but rather celebrates the potential of what it can accomplish.
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