(IsraelNN.com) A community organization has started a grassroots campaign to push the issue of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's captivity to top of the Internet world using the Twitter social networking mini-blog site.
Tweeters -- as Twitter users refer to themselves -- will use the hashtag #Gilad to remind the world that Shalit's condition and whereabouts remain unknown after three years in the hands of the Hamas terrorists who kidnapped him. A hashtag is a label that Tweeters add to their messages to categorize them and make them more accessible and popular.
A similar worldwide campaign to pass around word of the civil upheaval taking place following disputed recent presidential elections in Iran has been extremely successful. Numerous Iran-related hashtags have been pushed to the top of the search list on Twitter, which is being used by activists around the world to alert others in real-time to alert others of events as they unfold.
Iran as inspiration Many mainstream media began to take greater notice of the Internet application in the wake of the events in Iran, especially in view of the fact that foreign journalists have been completely banned by the Iranian government from reporting events on the streets of the riot-wracked Islamic nation.
Shalit supporters are now hoping for similar success in raising the world's awareness of the soldier's captivity as he continues to languish in terrorists' hands.
Several thousand bloggers have already begun spreading the word on the worldwide web, with a post that was begun by one of the two key organizers of the campaign, @ASoldiersMother. Her Tweet, as it went out on social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, read: "We MUST get #Gilad to the top on Thursday! Spread it using RT (re-Tweet, which means to forward the message –ed.), Facebook, LinkedIn – email. Please Thursday remember #Gilad!"
Shalit was abducted on June 25, 2006 by a team of terrorists during a cross-border attack on an IDF outpost near the Kerem Shalom crossing outside Gaza.
The Hamas terrorists who have been holding him hostage have allowed no one to see or contact him, including representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It is impossible to know whether Shalit is even alive, although Israeli officials have stressed they believe he still is.
"Mention Gilad in school" Organizers of the #Gilad campaign have asked people who are members on the Twitter network to "please post about Gilad and use the hashtags #Gilad - our goal is to get Gilad to the top of the Trend Tracker. This has been very effective with the Iranian protesters, gaining them tremendous international attention on all major media. Please, let's do the same for Gilad - this Thursday! Tweet for Gilad! You can follow me at @ASoldiersMother or write to me and I can send you an avatar (picture to use on Twitter) that says FREE GILAD - we are asking people to change their avatar for Thursday (one day) for Gilad."
For those outside Israel, the group has urged people in the United States to "please write, phone, or fax your representatives. Elsewhere in the world? Please do the same with your leaders."
Those who are on Facebook or LinkedIn are being asked to email their contacts. "Thursday must be Gilad Awareness Day!" stressed the group. Teachers were asked to "mention Gilad in school. Have your children write letters to government leaders and to Gilad's family."
Others were urged to write to media as well as their local Red Cross office ("ask them what they are doing to see Gilad") and to call in to radio shows and local news programs.