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Are images from Gaza turning public opinion against Israel?

Are Images From Gaza Turning Public Opinion Against Israel?

The current Israeli operation in Gaza is going into its fourth week, and Benjamin Netanyahu says it might not be ending anytime soon.

The Israeli prime minister said the operation would not be finished until the tunnels between Israel and Gaza, which Hamas fighters use to attack Israeli civilians, are destroyed.

But can the Israeli government stand a long conflict, or, as many pundits question, is the country in danger of losing a battle for public opinion on the world stage?

Several outlets, like PR Week, Haaretz and Mashable , claim the Palestinian death toll, combined with the rapid spread of images and victims' stories from Gaza, are turning the tide against Israel.

According to the progressive Israeli paper Haaretz, Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer told a conference call of American-Jewish leaders, "Israel is being routinely portrayed in both conventional and social media as an angry, well-armed giant leaving many innocent victims in its wake."

Part of the reason is that there are simply more Western journalists in Gaza this time around than in previous operations. That gives media coverage more of the other side's perspective than Western audiences are used to.

The clearest example of this came when an Israeli military strike killed four young boys playing on a beach. According to BBC, the strike occurred right next to a hotel where many Western journalists were staying, resulting in a flood of images and video of the horrific scene. That kind of tragedy might not have been so easily filmed and broadcast in previous years.

It's no surprise, then, that a steady stream of protests against Israel's operation have broken out all over the world.

But does this represent a real shift in support? A Pew poll released this week shows that, among Americans, twice as many blame Hamas for the latest conflict than blame Israel, and around half of Americans think Israel's military operation is an appropriate response.

Given that the U.S. gives around $3 billion annually in aid to Israel, that's an important finding, even if younger Americans were less likely to support the country. But that level of support is also an anomaly.

Unfavorable views of Israel are the majority in Germany, France, China and all Arab and Muslim countries according to the Pew Research Center.

Part of that might have to do with the overwhelming unpopularity of Israel's total blockade of Gaza and strict control of the West Bank. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry drew Israeli ire earlier this year for saying Israel could become an apartheid state. Former president Jimmy Carter has frequently said it already is.

Even in Israel, where support for the last two wars in Gaza has topped 90 percent, a 2010 poll found a quarter of Israelis felt the blockade did more harm than good.

Netanyahu has defended the blockade, though, especially after a ship carrying advanced weapons was intercepted on the way to Gaza earlier this year.

And for now, it doesn't look like public opinion is going to sway the prime minister. He said Sunday that Israel would not cede national security for the sake of public relations.

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rolnutz July 30 2014 at 12:39 AM

Name one war where civilians were not killed ! It never happened,and when you shoot missiles out of a school building ,how do you stop the aggression,? I guess Israel is expected to just ignore them. I'm sure of Canada or Mexico started lobbing shells into our country tomorrow those protesting would say we deserve it,and should not retaliate.

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12 replies
daskon July 30 2014 at 12:11 AM

What the news media forgets to report is that if not for their excellent missile defense system, Israel would have been hit by upward of 150 rockets a day fired from gaza. They are launched and not aimed at any specific target. Israel simply fires back at the locations these rockets are launched from.

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16 replies
jandjhoye July 30 2014 at 12:29 AM

No way. Israel complete the mission.

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6 replies
rwgebo1889 July 30 2014 at 12:16 AM

Naw the support for Israel remains strong - HAMAS is evil. The HP is doing its best is help HAMAS.

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17 replies
aljoramaggio July 30 2014 at 12:15 AM

It is difficult to tell how many are civilian or HAMAS fighters being killed (aside from women and children), because HAMAS soldiers do not fight in uniform, and hide amongst civilians - that is an old, old tactic of theirs..
So no, I don't think the public opinion is turning against Israel, but there is great sympathy to the truly innocent on both sides, caught up in the fighting.

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4 replies
Greg & Shannon July 30 2014 at 12:15 AM

Humas wants nothing less than the entire destruction of Isrial. Hope Isrial pounds the hell out of them.

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14 replies
MARTHA & PERRY July 30 2014 at 12:36 AM

Israel is doing what it needs to do to protect it's country and citizens. Hamas deserves every bomb or rocket Israel sends them. they can always stop firing rockets into Israel. but as long as they feel it is their duty to kill Jews, they will continue to get their butts kicked.

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16 replies
Rick July 30 2014 at 1:36 AM

Hamas is trying to use their stupid propaganda tactics to make Israel guilty. Israel has a god given right to be alittle upset and angry at Gaza strip. For years Israel was quiet and never gave in to war with Hamas. But remember my friends don't piss off God . I can only hope and pray Israel will obliterate these Hamas Radicals. God is the God of love but Hamas is nothing but sick evil twisted minded individuals who have no real purpose but to kill innocent god fearing people. And to save the world we must get rid of these monsters................

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10 replies
time1865 July 30 2014 at 12:36 AM

What I find interesting is that the liberal Jews in the US aren't screaming at Obama to support Israel. Looks like being liberal is more important to them. Hope they remember that when Israel is a cinder.

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17 replies
chipvpb July 30 2014 at 12:45 PM

People are plainly misinformed because Isreal is not fighting the Palestinians they are fighting Hamas. Hamas is clearly keeping these people there as Human shields. Isreal dropped millions of leiflets all over Gaza and anounced over the radio calling for the Palestinians to leave the area. As we can clearly see they have not done so because Hamas wont let them leave and are useing them as human shields.

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1 reply
sprayman55 chipvpb July 30 2014 at 1:05 PM

Where are they supposed to go? they would have to be always moving from one place to another. Isreal is not totaly innocent as to some of the things they do.

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