Shalit deal reactions - 11.10.11
Israelis celebrating outside the protest tent in Jerusalem, after Israel and Hamas reached a deal to release captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Oct. 11, 2011. Photo by Emil Salman
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"I am bringing home !" This sentence, awaited by millions for more than five years, was posted on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Twitter account, after the Shalit swap deal was approved by the Israeli cabinet, and following some earlier, less dramatic tweets on the subject. "This is a difficult decision to make, but a leadership is examined in moments like these, in its ability to make difficult decisions."

Like other major news events, the signing of the Shalit deal led to an explosion in internet activity. Throughout the Hebrew internet, tweets, Facebook status updates, and blogs were buzzing with the news. The prime minister's tweets received much attention in Arabic, English, Hebrew, French and other languages.

"Coming home!!!!!!? I hope so!!!!!!! Amen amen amen amern amen amen amern amen amen," Israel's supermodel Bar Refaeli tweeted on her Twitter account, expressing sentiments widely held by the Israeli public, using few words but much punctuation.

It seems that while Facebook was mostly used for the expression of jubilation, the local Twitter community reserved their right to cynicism even in the face of the news that brought joy to them as well. Even some of those opposed to the deal were overcome with emotions, as Amit Leventhal wrote in "The Buzzer."

Cynical discussions took place about Netanyahu's possible ulterior motives in approving the deal now, some pointing to the need to divert attention from the social protest, which is refusing to die out, even after the last of the tents were removed from Rothschild Boulevard.

"If Gilad Shalit starts dating Bar Refaeli, Ynet will implode," someone tweeted, referring to a popular Israeli news website. The owners of the joke Twitter account 'the fake Daphni Leef" tweeted: "I organized the biggest social protest in Israeli history, and all I got was a Gilad Shalit #T-shirt." Some even thought that this was a real tweet posted by the real Daphni Leef.

The interest in Shalit wasn't limited to the boarders of Israel or even the Middle East, as can be seen on a map generated by Trendsmap that follows trends on Twitter. Tweets on Shalit have emanated from France, South Africa, and Australia as well.