All aTwitter about the flotilla

2011-06-29 19:21

Jerusalem - It may still be anyone's guess when a small international convoy of vessels carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid will set sail from Greece to the Gaza Strip in a challenge to Israel's naval blockade of the territory run by Hamas Islamists.

But, mindful of the bloodshed at sea and global outcry that marked a similar event last year, the opposing sides are already battling for hearts and minds in the social and mainstream media.

An array of Facebook pages, websites and tweets posted by organisers of "Freedom Flotilla II" , say they are on a humanitarian mission of peace. Waging its own public relations campaign, Israel says the activists could be plotting violence.

A text message sent to reporters by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office on Monday quoted unnamed "Israeli officials" as saying that flotilla organisers might use chemicals against Israeli troops sent to intercept the convoy.

The next day, the Israeli military, which is under orders to prevent the ships from reaching the Gaza Strip, went on the record with the same accusation.

The "US Boat to Gaza" used its Facebook page  and tweets to challenge the allegation. The group, which has dubbed its vessel The Audacity of Hope, said Israel was "fabricating horror stories about hundreds of unarmed civilians in the flotilla".

Israel says the blockade, enforced since 2006, is aimed at stopping more weapons from reaching Hamas, a militant group shunned by the West over its refusal to recognise Israel and renounce violence. Palestinians and their supporters say the measure is illegal and constitutes collective punishment.

The stakes are high - a year ago, nine Turkish activists, including a dual US-Turkish national, were killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers who raided a Gaza-bound convoy in the eastern Mediterranean.

Hoax video

Israeli-Turkish relations neared breaking point after the bloodshed and an international outcry led to Israel easing its land blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israel has urged foreign governments not to let the new convoy of about 10 ships get under way. Organisers in Athens have accused Greece, where some of them are docked, of raising bureaucratic obstacles and bowing to Israeli pressure.

Flotilla groups and Israel have also used YouTube to make their case - in at least one instance in a video that looks to have been a hoax.

Organisers of the convoy said the propeller of one ship was cut in Piraeus harbour near Athens on Monday, and they accused Israel of sabotage. A video uploaded to YouTube by "digital flotilla" showed the damage and an interview with the boat's captain.

Another YouTube video featured a man who identified himself as "Marc", an American gay rights activist.  He said he had offered flotilla organisers the support of a network of gay activists but they had turned him down.

"It was hurtful," he complained, accusing Hamas of homophobia. Israel's Government Press Office and the Foreign Ministry , as well as an intern in Netanyahu's office linked to the video on their Twitter feeds.

A pro-Palestinian website later said the video, which appeared to have been professionally made, was bogus and identified the man as a Tel Aviv actor.

A photo of the actor on an Israeli celebrities website matched the man in the video.

  • suj - 2011-06-29 21:52

    Another example of propaganda used by the Israeli Government, when will the people of the World see Israel for the land stealing nation that they are. "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians"- Nelson Mandela

  • Gundaan - 2011-06-29 22:58

    suj ... then beat them suj know what are just another pathetic excuse for a non human ...beat them I dare you ...the Isrealis have created something ..I wonder ...I do not carry tears for terrorists ...

      suj - 2011-06-30 02:13

      Beat them ? If someone came into your backyard, VIOLENTLY stole your land, then deprive your kids of their most basic needs, cut them off completely from their family by building an illegal wall making it virtually impossible to function normally how would you react ?? Ones mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter..was our very own Nelson Mandela not classified as a terrorist ??

      Roman Moroni - 2011-06-30 03:21

      Suj...and I assume these people will just go and sit next to the Israeli's, read with them from the Quraan and sing the Arabic version of Kumbaja with them if leaft alone? Get real, the objective of Hamas and their allies is the extermination of Israel - you moralising about "if someone comes into your backyard..." can be applied just as effectively in reverse from an Israeli perspective.

      suj - 2011-06-30 07:34

      @Roman how can that be applied to Israel when the state of Israel was formed after stealing land from Palestine ? Israel owned no Land, There was no Israel.

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