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Twitter outrage over Tel Aviv snaps lead to West Bank live.

Dubai: In response to Snapchat users' outrage over the Tel Aviv live story on the app, which started on July 7, Snapchat announced it will have a West Bank live story on July 10.

Many people, including bloggers, journalists, activists, voiced their distaste of the Tel Aviv story on social media -- especially Twitter- as many believed the snaps showed how Israelis are enjoying themselves on "stolen Palestinian lands".

Palestinian Sara Hammad, 24, said seeing the snaps really upset her.

"Seeing the Tel Aviv snaps first thing in the morning was like a slap in the face. Seeing them having a safe and lavish life in a land that should have belonged to me -- to us Palestinians- it is almost like they stole what could have been my life."

She added it was really hurtful to see how beautiful the country is, and being a 24-year-old who has never set foot in her home country.

"I think it was a very bad decision by Snapchat to post this especially almost a year after the Gaza [war]. All they have shown is that these people are living on occupied land, while their neighbours live in dire conditions and cannot travel and move freely." She told Gulf News.

Arfah Shahid Siddiqi, a Pakistani 22-year-old blogger and journalism student was appalled by the snaps and decided to take action.

"At first, I thought well it's just another city going live as customary for Snapchat stories. But when I saw that not a single Arab/Palestinian element had been included in those snaps, it made me quite upset because they virtually erased all signs of Palestinian citizens," she said.

Like many other tweeps, Arfah found it outrageous that the Tel Aviv snaps went live on the one-year anniversary of one of Israel's deadliest attacks on Gaza -- Operation Protective Edge -- in which a majority of those killed were civilians, with a large proportion of women and children.

Arfah decided to start the hashtag #SnapchatforGaza and encouraged people to spread it. The hashtag was trending in the UAE on Twitter on July 8.

"If Tel Aviv is recognised, then they can't ignore that Palestinians are part of that country, given that this conflict is a case of contested territory ... I felt like the perception of reality was being controlled and I wanted both sides of the coin to be shown," she explained.

She said she believes that if it wasn't for the overwhelming number of retweets, endorsements by activists and journalists and spreading the message, as well as reporting the event on Snapchat, the West Bank story would have not happened.

Arfah said she is happy knowing that Palestinians will be able to show their side of the story too, even if it's not the complete picture. The fact that Snapchat listened to their users is something she appreciates.

"The fact that under 24 hours, Snapchat made the announcement for West Bank Live shows how powerful social media is," she said.

Sarah Al Aidy, a Palestinian civil-engineer said she was furious at first when she saw the snaps.

The first thing that came to her mind, she said, was the small children that were killed in the Gaza war. She started to compare life in Gaza and the West bank to Israel.

But the more she thought about it, the more she realised that the Israelis are normal people -like her -- and that she too, as a Palestinian, is having fun and living life. "so why not those Jewish people, it is not their fault, that the Zionist government did this to the Palestinians."

"We cannot blame them for living their life too, when I said this to my friends they attacked me, but we should be fair, we should be against the government and people who had the power to do that, not the people who just want to live their life," she said

Sara said she is still sad however, because she is originally from the Yafa-Tel Aviv area, but has never been there. It made her feel very sad because Israelis get to enjoy her country's beauty and she cannot.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Jul 10, 2015
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