"I am bringing #Gilad #Shalit home!" This sentence, awaited by millions for more than five years, was posted on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Twitter account Wednesday, after the Shalit swap deal was approved by the Israeli cabinet. The historic message following some earlier, less dramatic tweets on the subject, such as "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 in the subject. 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 amen amen amen amen amen amen," Israel's supermodel Bar Refaeli tweeted in Hebrew 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 as well. Even some of those opposed to the deal were overcome with emotions, as Amit Lewinthal wrote on the website Debuzzer.
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," one person tweeted, referring to Yedioth Ahronoth's 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 Israeli social networkers. According to Trendsmap, which generates maps based on Twitter activity, tweets about the Shalit deal popped up from around the world, including from France, South Africa, and Australia.
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