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#BringBackOurBoys is a social media campaign launched by students of the University of Haifa to raise awareness and call upon the international community for action after three teenage Israeli boys were abducted by pro-Palestinian terrorists in June 2014. The hashtag was directly inspired by the #BringBackOurGirls campaign launched earlier in April to raise awareness of mass abduction of Nigerian schoolgirls by the Islamic jihadist terrorist group Boko Haram.
On June 12th, 2014, three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gil-ad Shaar, were kidnapped in the West Bank on their way home from school, prompting a massive manhunt in the region. The Israeli government subsequently issued a statement accusing the Islamic terrorist group Hamas of involvement in the abductions and the military detained 80 Palestinians suspected of affiliation with Hamas.
On June 13th, a Facebook page for the campaign was created. Within five days of its launch, the page gained over 98,000 likes. On the same day, the campaign launched an Instagram account which features examples of sign holding activism as well as a collection of photographs and biographies of the three kidnapped boys. Within five days, the account gained over 2,000 followers.
On June 14th, #BringBackOurBoys was introduced on Twitter by students of University of Haifa as part of the Ambassadors Online program, which teaches its students to use the Internet for activism. Within 72 hours, the hashtag was tweeted out over 8,000 times. That same day, the official Twitter account of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) tweeted a message acknowledging the public’s prayers for their safe return (shown below, right).
On June 15th, Neil Lazarus, a lecturer at the University of Haifa, uploaded a video titled “#BringBackOurBoys” to his YouTube channel, which features the hashtag on everyday public items like clocks and sidewalks (shown below).
News Media Coverage
On June 14th, International Business Times published an article titled “#BringBackOurBoys IDF Hashtag Sparks Palestinian Outrage On Twitter,” which covered the hashtag campaign. Several news sites covered the hashtag campaign in the following days including The Jewish Daily Forward and the New York Post.
Meanwhile on the Arabic web, pro-Palestinian Internet users responded to the news of the abductions with photographs of their children gesturing a “three finger salute” in celebration. The salute was nicknamed “three Shalits” after another Israeli who had been kidnapped by Hamas, Gilad Shalit.
Three Bodies Found
On June 30th, the spokesperson for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that the bodies of the three teenagers had been found and recovered from a burial site in a field near the village of Halhul, northwest of Hebron, where they were last seen hitchhiking just over two weeks ago.
The Jewish Press – Three Fingered Salute – New Low, Even for ‘Palestinian’ Society
The New York Post – Israelis rally for return of three teens kidnapped by Hamas
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