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Naval raid ignites YouTube war
By MARK REBACZ
06/03/2010
4 videos from incident ranked most-viewed.
Though government officials from both Turkey and Israel have said their pieces, and PR representatives from all parties involved have been working around the clock to get their side of the story out, the battle over the Gaza flotilla incident is still raging on the pages of YouTube.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office, which operates its own YouTube channel, is getting the most hits, with some videos reaching a hit count of over a million. But the IDF channel’s response feature is disabled, so no posts are allowed.

The same is true of the response feature on Al Jazeera’s channel. However, for video-poster Russia Today, for instance – a popular English news channel that focuses on international news – despite its top video only reaching a view count of a few hundred thousand, the number of responses posted is in the hundreds, if not thousands.

The IDF channel, with under 30,000 subscribers, has boasted a much higher volume of viewers in the last two days than usual. The most popular video, a one-minute clip of IDF soldiers landing on the Mavi Marmara and facing a barrage of protesters, has reached almost 1.2 million hits. Al Jazeera and Russia Today, which boast 94,000 and 47,000 subscribers, respectively, have not had any video come close to that number of views; the highest is Russia Today’s video report of the incident, with about 110,000 hits.

Since Tuesday, the IDF has uploaded 15 new videos, comprising footage from the incident, arrests and confiscations in the aftermath, and interviews with wounded soldiers recounting their experiences. The Foreign Ministry also operates its own YouTube channel, though its viewer base is much smaller: Its most popular flotilla video has reached just 130,000 hits, though comments are allowed.

Responses to the YouTube videos relating to the flotilla are mainly of three general types: opinions that Israel is lying, opinions that Israel is telling the truth but still acted wrongly/illegally, and opinions that agree with Israel’s actions. Pro-Israel comments include posts like “Good job IDF,” “the ships broke international law,” and “Israel sends plenty of aid and supplies to Gaza,” while anti-Israel comments included “Israel killed 10 innocents,” “The murderers the Zionists,” “Israel, who would want to live in such a country,” and “Shame on Israel… this was a massacre.”

On The Jerusalem Post’s Web site, thousands of responses from all sides of the spectrum have been pouring in over the last two days. Many videos with pictures and footage collected from news sources and uploaded by private individuals have also broken the 100,000-hit mark, making the Israeli flotilla raid a “viral video” topic – one that becomes popular through video-sharing Web sites.

YouTube’s top four most-viewed videos on Wednesday were all from the IDF’s Spokesman’s channel.
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