Several Israelis, including a group trained to promote Israel, have claimed credit for the hashtag. Well-known Israelis, such as the former Soviet dissident and now chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky, participated.
So did Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israel’s prime minister.
Palestinians and their supporters responded with images and the same slogan, but depicting their own youths killed or arrested – in their words kidnapped – by the Israeli military. (Israel does put Palestinian minors arrested for throwing rocks in adult prisons, though they are kept in a separate wing.)
As the flames raged on Twitter over whose suffering is greater, Facebook users joined the fray, with the appearance of a page calling for "one Palestinian terrorist to be killed every hour until the youths are returned." In the eight days since it was created, the page has garnered more than 20,400 likes and no shortage of hate messages from both sides. (It remains unclear who is behind it).
Outside of the virtual realm, the verbal battles and conflicting narratives are no less heated. On Tuesday, Israeli parliamentarian Hanin Zoabi, who describes herself as Israeli-Palestinian, drew fire for suggesting (she says she was misquoted) on an Israeli radio station that those who kidnapped the youths might not be terrorists but instead carried out the abductions out of frustration at Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Zoabi faced a storm of criticism from fellow parliamentarians and received so many threats that the Israeli legislature assigned her a bodyguard.