Gilad Schalit’s release trending on Twitter

On the day when the historic deal went down, both Israeli and Palestinian Twitter users expressed their own happiness.

Twitter homepage (photo credit: Screenshot)
Twitter homepage
(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 anti-Israel blogger.
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 each other.
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.
“Gilad Habayta b’shalom – Gilad is home safe – people continue cheering and waving; the vans have come to a stop,” commented Pro-Israeli Twitter user @ASoldiersMother.
@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.
While these 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.
In 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 long.
#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.
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