Tens of thousands of Israelis are calling for attacks on Palestinians in a new Facebook group formed in the aftermath of the abduction and murder of three Israeli youths in the West Bank last month.
The responses, consisting of racist comments and demands for revenge, urge people to take violent action against Arabs.
By Wednesday evening, over 35,000 people had joined a Facebook group named “The people of Israel demand revenge,” which was set up after the bodies of teens were found Monday. Many of the group’s members are teenagers, and also include soldiers, who posted photographs of signs with messages demanding revenge and calling to exact a price for the teens’ murders, alongside the insignia and berets of Israeli army units.
The group’s managers, who are not identified by name, encourage surfers to send photos of themselves to the group’s page. “Take your own photo with the inscription ‘the nation of Israel demands revenge,’” one of the managers’ posts said. “It can be on a piece of paper, on cellphone, on the body or anything else (it’s more important to send photos of yourselves). Soldiers, you send us [photos] too. Put the photos on our wall, or attach them to this post, or send us the photo in a personal message and we’ll put them all together into one album. Share!!!”
One photograph that was posted to the page is of two teenage girls smiling, embracing each other and holding a piece of paper saying, “Hating Arabs is not racism, it’s values.” Another post shows an armed soldier with “Revenge!” inscribed on his chest. Yet another post is of a video clip in which a male urges the “slaughter” of Arab MK Haneen Zoabi and swears at her virulently. “I don’t care if I sound racist … [If] they kidnapped you, let’s see what we’d get in return. Half a portion of masbaha with zaatar,” he wrote.
“Many here ask what revenge is,” the group managers say in a post explaining the group’s agenda. “Killing innocents? No. We’re as rightist in our views as can be, but this group’s purpose is to avenge the kidnapped teens’ blood. To catch the terrorists that abducted and killed them and to exact revenge.”
Not everyone agreed with this message. “There’s no such thing as an innocent Arab,” one of the comments to the post said. “They learn to hate us and how to fight us from an early age!” Another surfer wrote: “I say take them all apart because even their smallest child was raised to be a terrorist.”
Some comments in the group were made by people who object to the message conveyed by the numerous photos and statuses. “A person who cares about human life does not see murder as an expression of sorrow and mourning, not even as a mere insult on Facebook,” one of them wrote.
“The abduction and murder are merely an excuse for you lot to express the same violent, dark views you held a month ago as well, with revenge thrown in so that it wouldn’t be murderousness for its own sake,” one wrote.
The Israel Defense Forces released a press statement on Wednesday afternoon in response to the campaign in which it said, "If soldiers are involved in sending racist photographs and in calling on harming the innocent, then this is a serious incident that does not accord with what is expected of IDF soldiers, and every case made known to the commanders will be handled with utmost severity.
"It is unfortunate that the national feeling of sadness is being exploited by political elements to incite and to link IDF soldiers to a phenomenon such as this.
"The commanders have been instructed to take a heavy hand against those involved and act to prevent the phenomenon's recurrence."
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni condemned the online calls for revenge and in an interview for Channel 2 said she will discuss pursuing legal action against those involved with the Attorney General.
Minister of Agriculture and Yisrael Beiteinu MK Yair Shamir also condemned the calls for revenge, terming them "an evil which must be uprooted."