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News

Ritika Sajdeh Deletes #AllEyesOnRafah Post Amid Online Harassment

As celebrities echo support for Palestine, several Israeli and Indian right-wing accounts on X have begun sharing another image, which reads, "Where were your eyes on October 7?".

By - Hera Rizwan | 29 May 2024 6:47 AM GMT

Ritika Sajdeh Deletes #AllEyesOnRafah Post Amid Online Harassment...

Ritika Sajdeh Deletes #AllEyesOnRafah Post Amid Online Harassment...

Ritika Sajdeh, wife of cricketer Rohit Sharma, removed her 'All Eyes on Rafah' Instagram story after facing online harassment. This phrase is being circulated on social media as a gesture of solidarity with Palestine, following Israeli shelling and airstrikes in Rafah, a southern Gaza city, which resulted in over 45 casualties on Sunday.

A screenshot of Sajdeh’s story went viral on social media, particularly on X, where it faced significant trolling. Some criticised her for not addressing Indian issues, such Kashmiri Pandits exodus, while others mocked her for allegedly not knowing where Rafah is. Some of the comments also addressed her as being 'anti-Hindu'.

The post has reportedly been deleted since then.

Several Indian celebrities, such as Alia Bhatt, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Rashmika Mandanna, Sonakshi Sinha, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Tripti Dimri, Dia Mirza, and Richa Chadha, among others, have also shown their solidarity with Palestinians by posting the viral phrase on their Instagram stories.

All Eyes On Rafah

The image has garnered over 29 million shares on Instagram in less than 24 hours, underscoring a renewed social media campaign by supporters of Palestinians in the wake of a deadly Israeli airstrike. The image shows tents in a camp arranged to spell out "All Eyes on Rafah," highlighting an area in southern Gaza densely populated with refugee camps.

Numerous celebrities have expressed their support using the hashtag #AllEyesOnRafah, sharing primarily through Instagram’s Stories feature, which has gained traction as a call to raise awareness about the ongoing conflict. Rafah was a critical entry point for humanitarian aid until Israel intensified its military operations on the Gaza side of the border earlier this month, taking control of the crossing.

In recent months, Instagram has become a vital platform for Palestinian journalists and supporters, even as its owner, Meta, attempts to restrict the dissemination of political content. Although the photo has circulated rapidly, video footage from Rafah shared by Palestinian journalists has faced restrictions and, in certain instances, deletion from social media platforms for displaying the harrowing aftermath of Israeli airstrikes.

According to NBC News, out of three Instagram posts showcasing the aftermath of the recent strike, depicting burned and severely injured individuals as well as casualties, two were deleted, and one was obscured with a sensitive content filter warning of "graphic or violent content". The news outlet confirmed the authenticity of these images. An Instagram spokesperson told NBC that the platform removed the content because it violated its policies against violent and graphic material.

Following the circulation of a viral image, numerous Israeli and Indian right-wing accounts on X have begun sharing another image. This image portrays an individual allegedly affiliated with Hamas, brandishing a rifle while standing in front of a toddler. The backdrop of the image depicts a destroyed area and a flaming Israeli flag. Emblazoned across the image is the question, "Where were your eyes on October 7?".

Israel's "tragic" Rafah incursion

At least 45 people, including children, were killed in Gaza's Rafah refugee camp following an Israeli air strike. The incident occurred just days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to cease operations in Rafah, sparking international outrage and increasing Israel's global isolation over the Gaza conflict.

Israel launched the attack on Rafah late Sunday, hours after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets at the Tel Aviv area, most of which were intercepted. Despite an order from the top UN court last week to halt its operation, Israeli forces continued their assault on Rafah, a border town once seen as the territory's last refuge.

The attack in Rafah has led to the displacement of over 1 million Palestinians, many of whom were already displaced by the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Palestinians claim they are vulnerable to Israeli attacks regardless of their location and have been moving throughout the Gaza Strip over the past few months.

When Israeli forces instructed those in the north to evacuate before launching operations in central Gaza and the southern city of Khan Yunis, hundreds of thousands fled south to Rafah.

The United Nations has long warned of an impending famine, particularly in northern besieged Gaza. Since the Rafah incursion, the UN Chief has expressed growing concern about malnutrition in the south.

Israel acknowledged that "something unfortunately went tragically wrong" during Sunday's airstrike, while its military refuted allegations of shelling the tent camp on Tuesday. Israel stated that its target in Sunday's operation was two senior Hamas operatives and asserted that it did not intend to cause civilian casualties.

The Biden administration also stated that it was closely observing the investigation into a tragic Israeli airstrike, emphasising that the recent casualties in Rafah did not amount to a significant ground operation that would breach any U.S. red lines.