We’ve been seeing the fruit featuring in social media posts across the internet ever since the the Gaza invasion began 20 days ago. As of today 6,546 Palestinians have been killed, including 2,704 children, and over 17,000 people have been wounded so far in ongoing Israeli retaliatory strikes. (asianews)
The watermelon is a massive part of Palestinian culture, featuring in many dishes and crossing into the art world where it has become a symbol of resistance. The red, green, white and black coloured fruit held in hand, depicted in art or posted as an emoji has also become a way for Palestinians and their supporters to protest against Israel.
The use of the watermelon as a Palestinian symbol is not new. It first emerged in 1967, when Israel seized control of the West Bank and Gaza and annexed East Jerusalem. Israel lifted the ban on the Palestinian flag in 1993, as part of the Oslo Accords, which entailed mutual recognition by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and were the first formal agreements to try to resolve the Israel-Palestine situation.
In 2007, just after the Second Intifada, artist Khaled Hourani created The Story of the Watermelon for a book titled Subjective Atlas of Palestine. In 2013, he isolated one print and named it The Colours of the Palestinian Flag, which has since been seen by people across the globe. In 2021, the symbol returned when settlers, supported by an Israeli court ruling, took over the homes of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.
It still needed today. A shadowban is when social media platforms actively censore accounts or reduce the reach of certain posts and content. To counter this blockade of information X, Instagram and Facebook users have started using the watermelon emoji in their usernames, stories and posts in place of Palestine.
Social media is battleground right now, with many people trying to fight for Palestine online. Spreading awareness and keeping the movement alive the best way they know how, they too have adopted the watermelon as a symbol of hope for Palestine.