18 Nov 2014

Jerusalem unrest plays out on social media with cartoons

Twitter and Facebook is playing a key role in contributing to the volatile atmosphere in Israel following today’s killings, with everything from cartoons to Kit-Kats being used in the propaganda war.

Four Israelis, including one with dual British-Israeli nationality, have been killed following an attack on a synagogue that involved, knives, a gun and axes. Eight people were injured.

Worshippers were praying when the attacks took place.

The Israeli army posted to Facebook about statements made by Hamas said to be praising the attacks, while commenters on the post called for Israel to “scatter the brains of those idiots”.

One Israeli caught up in the violence today told Channel 2 News: “I tried to escape. The man with the knife approached me. There was a chair and table between us… my prayer shawl got caught. I left it there and escaped.”

I tried to escape. The man with the knife approached me. There was a chair and table between us. Israeli caught up in the synogogue incident

The two attackers, Palestinians from east Jerusalem, were shot dead.

It is the deadliest attack in Jerusalem for six years, but it follows 10 separate attacks since June (see timeline below).

The latest wave of attacks started with three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and killed, which set off the Israel-Gaza war that latest for 50 days in July and August.

In November there were five attacks in which Israelis, Palestinians, and Israeli-Arabs have been killed.

Social media war

The unrest has led to a vitriolic reaction on social media.

Israel’s armed forces (IDF) posted an update to its Facebook page this morning that reads: “Since the brutal murder of at least four Israelis this morning in Jerusalem, Hamas members have been praising the attack on social networks.”

It quotes spokesmen representing Hamas, who it says are calling for further attacks and calling the attackers heroes.

The IDF linked to images written in Arabic, with an image of a bloody knife. The image, alleged to have come from Palestinians, reads: “Jerusalem is thirsty, and this thirst will be quenched with blood.”

Our government needs to take the kid gloves off. Israeli commentator

Responding to the IDF’s post on Facebook, commenters wrote: “The life of a single Israeli is worth 10 of their’s” (sic) and “hamas= isis= muslem barbarian ignorants”.

A cartoon said to have been posted by Hamas shows Israeli Jews being stabbed in the street. It was reposted by IDF, and one commenter said: “clearly planned and premeditated with the cartoon ready to go out. Our government needs to take the kid gloves off.”

Twitter user Shimrit Meir has posted that Palestinian students at a university in Jordan were offering free Kit-Kats “in honour of the terrorist attack”.

There is no way to confirm the authenticity of the image, but that has not stopped it from being retweeted and favourited 40 times in the last few hours.

Timeline of unrest

12 June
Three teenagers from Israel murdered after being kidnapped by Palestinians in the West Bank.

2 July
16-year-old Palestinian kidnapped and murdered in Jerusalem.

23 Sept
Two Palestinians killed by Israeli troops. They were suspected of the 12 June kidnapping.

23 Oct
Two people killed in a Jerusalem car attack by a Palestinian man who was killed by police.

29 Oct
Palestinian man shoots prominent Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who has campaigned to allow Jews to pray at al-Haram al-Sharif site (Temple Mount). Attacker killed by police. Glick survived.

30 Oct
Temple Mount closed by Israel for the first time since 2000 to avoid unrest.

5 Nov
Palestinian kills two people in Jerusalem van attack. Attacker killed by police.

6 Nov
Riots following van attack. Israeli PM Netanyahu rejects calls to allow Jews to pray at al-Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount).

8 Nov
Police kill Israeli-Arab in northern Israel after attempted knife attack. CCTV footage contradicts claims Israeli police fired warning shot, and may have shot the man as he ran away.

10 Nov
Two Israelis, including one soldier, stabbed to death by Palestinians in West Bank and Tel Aviv.

11 Nov
Israeli troops in West Bank shoot dead Palestinian man as the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accuses Israel of inciting a religious war.

16 Nov
Israeli man stabbed in the back with screwdriver in possible “terror” attack following days of calm.

17 Nov
A Palestinian bus driver found hanged in a bus depot Jerusalem is alleged to have been murdered.