Saudi Twittersphere on fire with #GazaUnderAttack

Saudi Twittersphere on fire

Away from the daily news bites, analyses and debates from known Saudi writers and media personalities about the current round of violence on Gaza, the Saudi youth have taken advantage of Twitter to either connect directly with people living in Gaza who still have access to Internet, or use this social media to awaken the world’s conscience.

They are doing this by insightful tweets in their newly-created hashtags or joining other trending tweets, and also by retweeting many real-time pictures and news from other sites and hashtags to show death and rubble in real time as the battle for the world’s hearts and minds rage alongside the nine-day relentless bombardment of Gaza by Israel.

The hashtags that are trending are: #GazaUnderFire; #FreeGaza; #GazaUnderAttack; #PrayForGaza; #MarytrsOfGaza and many others.

Fatima Abdul Wahab, a high school student, said she has been regularly following the pathetic condition in Gaza only by following people of her generation living in Gaza. “We have become one family and if I don’t see their tweets for some time I start to panic thinking something wrong has happened to them,” said the Madinah resident.

Fatima, who primarily joined Facebook a few years ago, has shifted her interest to Twitter as she believes she can “express her passion for poetry and love for Arabic literature directly with known authors.”

“This time, however, it is exceptional that almost all tweets are reserved for prayer for the delivery of the people of Gaza from the Israeli genocide and support for Gaza victims.”

Saudis of all ages and views have been active on different hashtags —both in Arabic and English — to address the “War on Gaza” during the last week. Tweets topping the list are those carrying prayers, empathy and courage. More trending pictures are those showing the sorrow of the family and injuries of kids, mothers, and elderly people.

Initially, several cartoons lampooning Israel were circulated, but they were replaced by gruesome photographs of death and injury as increasing number of victims are being reported following relentless Israeli shelling.

A top trending hashtag among Saudis is one that created furious debates about who started the war. Is it Hamas? While some in this hashtag believe that Israelis are being aggressive toward Palestinians and violating human rights others believe Hamas started the war.

Abdullah Bin Ahmed, who graduated this year from an engineering college, said: “I don’t care who thinks what! We have humanitarian cases and a party that is clearly violating all morals and rights. We have nothing in hand except to watch closely what is being done and pray for our brothers and sisters during this holy month.”

Some other Saudis were seen addressing Israeli officials directly on Twitter, confronting them with pictures of Gaza children who fell victim to this war.

The trending social media, however, is not for everyone. Suhair Al-Ahmedi said: “I have seen the war on Gaza in 2008 and I remember I was unable to sleep for days.”

People, she said, tend to circulate “heart rending photographs” which has kept her away from social media in general.

“I prefer to get the news from different TV channels as they give us a warning before airing photos or videos stating that weak persons should not watch those segments.

“However this does not happen in social media. People actually look for the most horrifying images and then they spread them, the shots keep appearing in your timeline over and over again, making you unable to live a normal life, especially if you are sensitive. We hope this will end soon and people in Palestine enjoy peace.”


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