Israel Is Tweeting Rocket Emojis as Gaza Death Toll Passes 200

Around 40,000 people in Gaza have been displaced during the week-long escalation.
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
May 17, 2021, 9:17pm
​A screenshot of a tweet from the State of Israel. (Twitter)
A screenshot of a tweet from the State of Israel. (Twitter)

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As the death toll in Gaza surpassed 200 on Monday, the team running the State of Israel's official Twitter account decided it would be a good idea to tweet out a bunch of rocket emojis, each one symbolizing (they said) a rocket shot by Hamas toward Israel. 

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In total, Israel sent 12 tweets and 3,168 rocket emojis. The final tweet in the thread read, “Just to give you all some perspective, these [a hand pointing up] are the total amount of rockets shot at Israeli civilians. Each one of these rockets is meant to kill.” 

The series of tweets comes after the deadliest day in the week-old escalation between Israel and the Hamas militant group that controls Gaza. More than 50 Palestinians were killed and at least 50 more were injured during a wave of Israeli rocket attacks on the territory Sunday. Ten of those killed on Sunday were children, according to Al Jazeera. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since May 10, according to CNN, with 59 of the dead being children. Another 40,000 people in Gaza have been displaced by the Israeli bombings in the last week. At least 10 Israelis have been killed since the weeklong escalation started. 

The latest chapter in the conflict between Israel and Palestine has been a bloody one, and the lopsided death toll is rising. On Monday, Israel continued to bombard Gaza with rockets, sending a barrage at what they said were tunnels holding militants. The vast majority of rockets sent into Israel from Gaza are intercepted by the Iron Dome, the country's missile defense system. Israeli authorities told The Economist  last week the Dome was over 90 percent effective. 

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The series of tweets from Israel on Monday was, unsurprisingly, criticized as being in bad taste in light of the high death toll in Gaza that has come from Israeli airstrikes. One Twitter user responded by tweeting child emojis at the account writing, “I did one with the number of kids you've killed.” 

Among those killed over the weekend were two high-profile Palestinian doctors. Dr. Mooein Ahmad al-Aloul, one of Gaza’s few neurologists, was killed Sunday morning. His daughter told Al Jazeera that “without warning, they bombed our house.” Also on Sunday morning, Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf, the head of internal medicine at Al-Shifa hospital, was killed alongside 33 others after Israel fired rockets at his apartment building. Abu al-Ouf was also reportedly the head of Gaza’s COVID response team. One of his co-workers told Al Jazeera his death was “a huge loss to the medical community.”

A home in a Palestinian refugee camp was also targeted by Israeli rockets over the weekend. The attack killed 10 people—eight of which were children—and only left an infant alive. 

Over the weekend, Israel also targeted a building that housed the bureaus of several international news organizations, including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Israel has said that Hamas operated from within the building but has yet to produce any evidence to verify that. Reporters Without Borders has asked the International Criminal Court to investigate if the attack constitutes a war crime. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement that “we narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life.” 

Long-simmering tensions boiled over last week after Israel cancelled Palestinian elections, Palestinian families in East Jerusalem were faced with eviction in favor of Jewish settlers, and Muslim holy sites—like the Al-Aqsa Mosque—were raided by Israelis. Mob violence has broken out in cities in Israel between Jewish and Arab citizens.  

The United Nations has called for an end to the fighting, and the Security Council met over the weekend to deliberate over the bloodshed. 

"This latest round of violence only perpetuates the cycles of death, destruction and despair,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres at the opening of the meeting. “The fighting must stop, it must stop immediately."