(photo credit: Screenshot)
The unique events of Israel and Hamas’s prisoner swap and Gilad Schalit’s
historic release hit home on social media Tuesday exactly at the time the freed
soldier landed in Mitzpe Hila.
As thousands of people cheered, waved
flags, sang and chanted to welcome him home, one tweet on the social networking
site Twitter said it all: “A result of Israel-Hamas negotiations. ‘Palestinians
and Israelis celebrating at the same time is a rare occurrence,’” with a link to
a story on the topic from news agency Reuters.
Ironically, the tweet came
from @Avinunu, confounder of the Electronic Intifada campaign and an avid
It was not only his tweet that reflected an unusual
change on Twitter, which is more often than not used as a battle ground for each
side in the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict to sling mud and accusations at
Rather, on the day when the historic deal went down, both
Israeli and Palestinian Twitter users expressed their own happiness that people
kept on foreign soil for many years were now being freed.
b’shalom – Gilad is home safe – people continue cheering and waving; the vans
have come to a stop,” commented Pro-Israeli Twitter user
@Bibireport, a user posting constant updates on “Israel
and the Netanyahu government” said: “#GiladShalit about to land.... i’m shedding
tears of Joy!”
This emotional sentiment was common throughout the day from
supporters of Israel, overjoyed that the soldier kidnapped five years and four
months ago by Hamas in a cross-border raid was released.
sentiments on Twitter were clearly genuine, the rumors and unconfirmed reports
during the course of the day were more misleading.
Even as professional
journalists kept followers closely updated on Schalit’s journey throughout the
day, much of the information was premature, unconfirmed in an official capacity
or downright misleading.
Early on in the day, before reports of his
official release were announced, Twitter users and new media-savvy journalists
presented a barrage of information ranging from reports that he was dressed in
Israeli army fatigues to other announcements that the deal would be called off
because of two Palestinian prisoners refusing to be deported to Gaza.
another capacity, however, those on Twitter did keep followers abreast of events
from early on in the day and topics related to the swap were among the top items
being discussed on the social networking site worldwide all day
#Gaza and #Tel Nof both became worldwide trending topics, meaning
that millions of people across the globe were using the social networking site
to gain information on Schalit’s return home.