- Title: WEST BANK: Palestinians open an on-line museum to win over public opinion
- Date: 5th January 2009
- Summary: RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (JANUARY 4, 2008) (REUTERS) PALESTINIAN BLOGGER ALAA ALA EL-DEIN SURFING SECOND LIFE WEB SITE CLOSE OF ALA EL-DEIN'S HAND USING MOUSE TO SCROLL
- Embargoed: 20th January 2009 12:00
- Topics: War / Fighting,History
- Reuters ID: LVADMRCTOTX601RVRWW1WBXRVSW9
- Story Text: As Israeli troops pushed deeper into the Hamas-run territory in the Gaza Strip on Sunday (January 4), the Arab world found a creative way to garner public support worldwide.
Israel's Ynet internet news site reported that Qatar based Islam Online launched "The Palestinian Holocaust Memorial Museum" [PHMM] on Second Life, a 3-D virtual world accessible through the Internet.
Second Life allows users to create 3-D figures of themselves, known as avatars. In order to access the museum, users will have to download and register with Second Life.
The PHMM web site says, "The Palestinian Holocaust Memorial Museum will feature the photos, names and stories of Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in the context of a new Holocaust. PHMM will highlight the elements of the new Holocaust; the locations, weapons and impacts. Testimonies of the survivors will also be published."
Palestinian blogger, Alaa Ala El-Dein, says people around the world are using the Internet as a tool to protest.
"What we're witnessing today is a new version of war, a new version of battle between Israel and the Arab world. We can see that people are going into the Internet to use it as a way to express their protest of what's going on," said Ala El-Dein.
The Second Life site featured images of Palestinains protesting with flags and banners calling on Israel to halt its "war crimes" in Gaza.
According to Ynet, the museum reported over 6,700 people have already visited the site since its launch.
The site was opened after Israel began an operation to halt rocket fire on southern Israel.
Ala El-Dein says the Internet is an ideal platform for people who do not have the ability to protest on the streets.
"Both sides, Israel and the Arab region and the whole world, is using another medium for this kind of war. As we see, for example, a lot of the Egyptians who can not, I say, go to the street, who are not willing to go to the street, they are using what's called the 'Second Life' to express their protest of what is going on in Gaza. They're even having some kind of demonstration on the Internet where people can gather and see some photos and pictures in there," he said.
Ala El-Dein also said Israel uses its Twitter accounts [free on-line social networking site] to gain public support for its operation in Gaza.
"In another site you can see that even the Israeli officials, like the Israeli consulate in New York, are using their Twitter accounts to express also their views of what's going on and to see what's in there. There is even a web site, an account on Twitter, where they count the number of rockets that is launched towards Israel."
On Saturday (January 3) evening, a column of Israeli tanks backed by aircrafts pushed deep into the territory, and Israel's navy prevented travel along Gaza's coastal road, effectively cutting the enclave in half.
More than 400 Gazans have been killed and some 1,700 have been wounded since Israel began its aerial campaign, Gaza health officials said.
The UN said the death toll in Gaza included more than 60 civilians, 34 of them children.
Three Israeli civilians and one soldier have also died in rocket attacks which have reached deeper into Israel than ever before, bringing one eighth of Israel's population within rocket range.
The offensive was launched after more than a week of Palestinian rocket fire that followed a six-month truce.
Israel said 30 of its soldiers were wounded, two seriously, since the start of the ground assault and that Israeli aircraft struck more than 45 targets, including arms smuggling tunnels, weapons depots and mortar squads.
Heavy casualties are likely to increase international pressure on Israel to halt its biggest operation in the Gaza Strip in four decades, fighting that holds significant political risks for Israeli leaders ahead of a February 10 national election.
The plight of the 1.5 million Palestinians crammed into the Gaza Strip was growing more desperate as people took shelter in their homes for days and humanitarian agencies warned that water, food and medical supplies were running short.
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