The United States First Lady Michelle Obama’s #BringBackOurGirls photo in May received a huge backlash from people who demanded President Barack Obama “bring back” the families destroyed by his drone program in countries like Yemen and Pakistan.
Something similar happened with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) this weekend when they initiated a campaign entitled #BringBackOurBoys for three teenagers believed to have been kidnapped in the West Bank.
Three Israeli teenagers, Eyal Yifrcah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel, who were reportedly students at a religious high school and seminary in the West Bank, were presumed to have been kidnapped, Israeli military officials said on Friday.
Following the incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority responsible for the safety of the missing teenage boys.
Subsequently, a social media campaign was launched by the University of Haifa Ambassadors Network to raise awareness about the three missing boys.
The hashtag #BringBackOurBoys went viral in Israel, receiving up to 2,800 tweets per hour, according to hashtag.org, a media analytics website.
However, soon enough, the same hashtag was used to remind IDF of its widespread human rights abuses against Palestinians – especially their boys and men who are frequently taken into custody and abducted for interrogation.
Earlier in January, a human rights organization based in Israel accused the IDF of torturing, publicly caging and sexually abusing Palestinian minors.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) demanded that Israel lower its threshold of abusive treatment when it comes to children, adding that it is the only nation to automatically and systematically prosecute minors in military courts - that too without a guarantee of a fair trial.
In addition, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) released a report last October, highlighting Israel’s violations against detained Palestinian children despite an alleged decision by the government to improve their conditions and official methods of interrogation.
“Israel now allegedly detains children, aged 12-13, for 24 hours instead of four days, while children 14-15 years of age are now detained for two days before being sent to court comparing to four days as per previous measures. Yet, Israel did not change detention measures for children aged 16 -17,” UNICEF stated.
Here are some of the posts from Palestinians asking IDF to “bring back” their boys:
5,271 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons including 192 administrative detainees, 17 women & 196 children #BringBackOurBoys— Free Gaza Movement (@freegazaorg) June 14, 2014