While tweets from the Frontline may have very different connotations in Ireland (think Kenny, Gallagher and a certain unofficial Sinn Féin twitter account) in Palestine it is becoming commonplace to see hashtags from villages, demonstrations or ‘Occupy’-style gatherings trend across the social media.
Just today, while our mainstream media pointedly ignores the hunger strikes and solidarity demonstrations across the region, twitter users are documenting the ongoing events at Nabi Saleh. Using the hashtag #nabisaleh or the popular user @tweet_palestine we can follow the descent into violence at that village. Under the cover of the election night in Israel during the week illegal Israeli settlers encroached further into the Palestinian community of Nabi Saleh, having already seized the freshwater spring.
The common practice used by settlers is to simply roll in caravans and then build on the sites with the protection of the army and their own weapons. Palestinian farm animals will be killed or hunted, olive trees or crops destroyed and Palestinians themselves shot or threatened. Today a demonstration in the village was being documented when the Israeli forces encroached first using Skunk (click for more on this shocking weapon) and then attacking the village in great numbers, firing teargas and plastic-coated bullets. So far updates tell that a 16 year old has been shot in the head at close range with a tear gas canister but is being treated in a village house (main photo)
The access given to the world’s activists and journalists via social media, particularly Twitter is a relatively new phenomenon and negates the kind of laws prohibiting free press that we see in these restrictive regimes. It also points to the importance of anonymity for Twitter users as otherwise many of these activists could face punishment, imprisonment or death. A simple smartphone can take a photo which within minutes can create a viral snapshot of an event, it’s too fast and too simple stop no matter how powerful your army. It’s the very essence of underground reporting.