Social media explores pros, cons of Schalit deal

Terror victims circulate petitions against freeing of terrorists, Palestinians lament lack of children on list of prisoners to be freed.

Twitter feed stream 311 (R) (photo credit: Yves Herman / Reuters)
Twitter feed stream 311 (R)
(photo credit: Yves Herman / Reuters)
As Israel and Hamas gear up for Tuesday’s prisoner exchange, the discussion from both sides over the pros and cons of the deal were heightened across social media on Monday, with those opposed to the exchange more vocal than those who welcomed it.
Israeli groups, mostly those working who have been touched by violence, utilized new media to create public forums or on-line petitions to turn national opinion against releasing several of the most controversial prisoners.
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“Remove Ahlam Tamimi from the list of terrorists to be freed” was one such internet petition set up by Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malka was killed in the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing.
Roth and his wife Frimet opted not petition the High Court of Justice against the release of Tamimi, who drove the suicide bomber to his destination on that fateful day. She is expected to be released to Jordan on Tuesday.
Instead, the family created the petition through website “Go Petition”. Created on Friday after finding out that Tamimi was among those being released, the petition had garnered some 6000 signatures by Monday.
Also making the rounds of social media sites was graphic images from the October 2000 “lynch” in Ramallah, when a Palestinian mob murdered two IDF soldiers, Vadim Norzich and Yossi Avrahami, and mutilated their bodies. Under the banner, “Outrage: This man to be released!?” the image depicts Abed Alaziz Salaha, who was photographed standing at window with his hands covered with blood.
Salaha who was sentenced to life in prison, with Israeli politicians assuring the victims’ families that he would never be released, will also be freed on Tuesday.
In another angle on the debate, Palestinian groups on Monday attempted to raise awareness to those prisoners who will not be among those released in the deal, including more than 100 children.
Launched Monday by Defense for Children International/Palestine Section, an international non-governmental child rights organization established in 1979 and featured prominently on sites such as Occupied Palestine, “a blog for human rights and the liberation of Palestine,” the campaign deals with the fact that of the 1027 Palestinian prisoners being freed, not one of them is a child.
According to the information published used by the campaign, which was prominent in Twitter feeds throughout the day, there are some 164 Palestinian children aged 12-17, mostly accused of throwing stones or rocks, currently in Israeli prisons.
While in the initial batch of prisoners to be released Tuesday no children were listed, those behind the petition also said they could “not confirm how many children, if any, will be released at the second stage in December 2011.”
Mainstream news network Al-Jazeera also harnessed social media Monday for its cross-genre show The Stream, which uses forums such as Twitter and Facebook to generate discussions amongst viewers on certain current affairs topics later featured on its televised show.
Asking the question on Twitter what “#1for1000 means” -- in terms of one Israeli prisoner in exchange for one thousand prisoners -- the show captured some interesting responses to the debate around this particular issue.
AviMayer, an Israeli tweep wrote: “#1for1000means thousands of #Israelis will experience anew the pain of losing their loved ones as their murderers go free.”
Another tweep, Lalkilani, a “Palestinian feminist living in the Arab world” concluded, “the ratio shows that yet again #Palestinian life is undervalued. But the important thing is that they are realized.”
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