Images circulating on Twitter, showing Israelis on a hilltop cheering and applauding as they watch the deadly aerial bombardment of Gaza, have caused international outrage after being shared by thousands on Twitter.
Taken by the Middle East correspondent for a Danish newspaper, the picture shows rows of people sitting on plastic chairs looking out over the Gaza Strip as rockets and explosions light up the night sky.
Allan Sørensen, who posted the image, wrote that it showed a kind of “cinema” on the hilltop outside the Israeli town of Sderot, and a caption added: “Clapping when blasts are heard.”
Sørensen’s newspaper, the Kristeligt Dagblad, reported that the gathering involved more than 50 people who had transformed the hill into something “most closely resembling the front row of a reality war theatre”.
It said that people were seen taking popcorn up onto the hill with their chairs, and that they sat cheerfully smoking hookahs.
“We are here to see Israel destroy Hamas,” said Eli Chone, a 22-year-old American who lives in Israel.
Sørensen’s tweet was met with anger by fellow Twitter users. One user wrote: “If this is true then God help us all. What’s become of the human race?”
Sderot cinema. Israelis bringing chairs 2 hilltop in sderot 2 watch latest from Gaza. Clapping when blasts are heard. pic.twitter.com/WYZquV62O7— Allan Sørensen (@allansorensen72) July 9, 2014
Another said: “This is the most gruesome image I've seen the last few days.”
Further images have since emerged showing larger crowds on subsequent days - suggesting that the so-called “Sderot cinema” was far from a one-off. They showed groups standing and pointing out to the horizon, and one had even brought a sofa up onto the hilltop.