Gaza border teens’ Instagram account goes viral

Feed sharing images of destruction gains over 50k followers in two weeks.

A KITE flies over the Gaza border into an area where incendiary kites and balloons have caused major fires in southern Israel. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
A KITE flies over the Gaza border into an area where incendiary kites and balloons have caused major fires in southern Israel.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Videos of Iron Dome interceptions in the sky. Photos of fields set alight by incendiary kites and balloons. The sounds of red alert sirens waking families from their sleep.
A group of eight teenaged girls from the Gaza border communities want to share their experiences living under fire with the world. And within less than two weeks, their Instagram account about life under fire has gained more than 50,000 followers.
"We, children of the Gaza border communities, live a kilometer away from the separation fence," they wrote on their first post earlier this month. "Because of the situation we are going through, we decided to open an Instagram account that will reveal the daily war that we feel in our region. We don't know if you are involved in the situation but you should know that every day we have incendiary kites, exploding balloons, fires, shelling, tear gas we breath in and choke on - and this is just the beginning."
For the past two weeks, the teens - ages 16-18 - have been sharing video and images of their daily experiences.
"Some of the photos we took, others are sent to us," a representative of the account, Otef.Gaza, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
One image shows a little girl clutching a stuffed animal in a burned out field.
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צילום:אמנון ארד עוד מעט החורף יגיע וישטוף את הכל. כבר לא יהיו שריפות. השדות השחורים יצבעו בירוק, ואולי יצאו קצת כלניות. כולם יבואו לראות את הפלא, לשמוח, ולשכוח מכל מה שהיה. עוד מעט החורף יגיע, וישטוף את הכל. אבל הוא לא יצליח לקחת איתו את החרדה, הכאב, הזכרון. גם אם הכל ישכח כלא היה, ישאר בנו הרגש. הרגש שלא משחרר. כל קול רעם יגרום לנו לרעוד. כל ברק יזכיר לנו איך נראית פצצת תאורה בלילה, או יירוטים של כיפת ברזל. במקום לצפות לגשם שיבוא ואולי יעלים את השריפות, אנחנו פשוט מצפים לשקט.

A post shared by OTEF GAZA - עוטף עזה (@otef.gaza) on

"Soon the winter will come, and will wash everything away," the caption reads. "But it won't succeed in taking away the panic, the pain and the memories."
Over the weekend, the teens shared a video of sirens and the sounds of rockets being fired and intercepted.
"More than 12 hours of rockets firing toward the South," they wrote.
Last week they shared a photo of a firefighter battling flames, and a message of thanks.
"Amid all the terror, the fires, the balloons, the kites and the tear gas, there are those who are working to protect us," they wrote. "We wanted to say to you: thanks! You're doing hard work, and it's not taken for granted."
Since the teens launched the account, they've been building support - including celebrity endorsements like from actor Aviv Alush and actress Maya Wertheimer. Within three days, the account had 20,000 followers, and after 12 days it passed the 50,000 mark.
"We've received a lot of messages of support, and also heard from people who didn't know what is happening over here," said one of the teens Tuesday. "There are also those who claim that we are exaggerating to gain pity. If trying to protect our homes and to show what is going on here is exaggerating, then I guess we are."
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אמא העפיפון שם בשמים עפיפון טוב או רע? הוא של ילד או של מחבל אויב?! אמא הבלון שנפל בגינה זה בלון מחגיגה או בלון מההריגה? אפשר עימו לשחק או ממנו להתרחק?! אמא הבומים שנשמעים זה שלנו או שלהם? צריך להתגונן או אפשר להמשיך לנגן?! אמא פעימות הלב שלי דופקות בקצב זאת התרגשות החופשה או סימני חרדה?! אמא למה את שותקת ואת ראשי רק מלטפת * לשתוק זה טוב או רע ?!?! * (נכתב על ידי אמא ל3 משדרות) #חירוםשגרה Mom, is the kite up in the sky good or bad? it belongs to a child or to an enemy? Mom, does the kite that fell from the sky is from a party or its here to kill us? Can we play with it? or shall we stay away from it?! Mom, are the explosions out there are on our side or theirs? Do we need to hide, or we can still play? Mom, my fast heartbeats is from the vacation excitement or fear? Mom, why youre silent and caress my hair? *is being quiet good or bad?*

A post shared by OTEF GAZA - עוטף עזה (@otef.gaza) on

Several of the account's posts criticize the government's inaction, but the girls say they prefer not to talk politics.
"Our goal is to raise awareness, and bring about change."