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Israel's credibility wrecked by Gaza massacre

The condemnation from around the world of Israel's ruthlessness in its onslaught in Gaza may represent an historical hardening of views against the self-proclaimed Jewish state, experts say, despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's claims of military victory. Social media played an essential role in unveiling Israel's horrific actions in Gaza to the global public, which compensated for shortcomings in the mainstream media, they said. Ali Murat Yel, a professor from Marmara University in Turkey who edits the journal Turkey Agenda, told the Anadolu Agency: "Israel still does not understand the power of social media and has repeated the same type of massacre which it has carried out in the past. "But, this time, the whole world witnessed pretty much every move in Gaza." Thousands of images and video sequences of the corpses of dead children and other Palestinians caught in the horror of Israel's "Operation Protective Edge" offensive were shared by social media users all around the world in tweets, Facebook postings and YouTube uploads as well on other media platforms. The appalling aftermath of residential areas, buildings, hospitals, schools and mosques devastated by high-tech bombing raids also filled social media space.

- Israel 'a terrorist state'

Middle East commentator Lamis Andoni, editor of the UK-based Al-Arabi Al Jadid news portal, said: "Despite the fact that there were so many professional media people in Gaza, it was young people using social media which played the crucial role in bringing the news out.

"Some of the stories and pictures broadcast by Gazan youths challenged Israeli and pro-Israeli media."

Israel's killings were protested against by millions of people all around the world, particularly in Turkey, the UK and the US.

Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, El Salvador and Venezuela all recalled their ambassadors to Israel last week.

Spain stopped a €4.9 million ($6.6 million) arms deal with Israel while Bolivia declared the country "a terrorist state".

Yel said: "While Israel's anti-Semitism discourse appears to be its biggest defense, it is now more vulnerable than ever before.

"Nobody wants to be called anti-Semitic but, after so many people witnessed all those images, it is now justifiable to criticize Israel."

"With so many protests on Western streets and among international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), even powerful leaders have found themselves in a position where they have had to criticize Israeli actions against civilians in Gaza," Yel added.

- 'Lost generation of Israeli leaders'

Neta Golan, spokesman for the Ramallah-based Jews Against Genocide organization, said: "In the past, Zionists knew how to play an international role as their dealings with the Western community.

"Maybe this is still true to some extent, but they have lost that generation of Israeli leaders - those who cared about their image in international eyes. They were smart."

Golan added: "Palestinians have long accepted - as some people like Edward Said, the respected author and international advocate of the Palestinian cause, said - that they were unable to communicate effectively with the West.

"But now, all that has been flipped on its head."

He said the sight of Israel's killing of children and bombing of a UN school as Palestinians, mainly children and women, had sheltered there, had deeply affected people and perceptions of Israel.

Twenty people were killed, including four children aged between five and 12, and dozens injured in an overnight attack by Israel on the UN-sponsored Jabaliya elementary school in Gaza, located inside the very densely populated Jabaliya Refugee Camp.

- 'Slaughter of children'

Golan said: "Israel has long aimed to hit Palestinians where it hurts most, and what can hurt more that the slaughter of children? 

"They hit that place, and many other vulnerable places."

"Most of the victims were children and women who were taking refuge at the school," Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qodra told Anadolu Agency.

In Britain, whose political elite has long been a staunch supporter of Israel, Minister of Defence Phillip Hammond admitted after the bombing of the UN school that Israel "had lost the confidence of the West". 

Even Israel's most important ally, the United States, in language that was rare for its directness and severity, denounced the attack as "disgraceful”.

Golan said the incident showed it was "becoming harder for Europe and the USA governments to justify Israel's actions".

- Claim rejected

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International called the incident a "potential war crime".

It said the Israeli army's attack had been launched despite the fact that UNRWA had "shared its coordinates of the school with the Israeli army 17 times".

Israeli officials claimed "terrorists" had been hiding in the building.

A similar incident occurred in 2009 during Israel's "Operation Cast Lead", when Israeli forces bombed a UN school and other UN buildings where people had taken refuge.

A recent document unveiled by Wikileaks showed that, despite Israeli claims of its troops being fired upon, "no military action was carried out from within/within UN premises in any of the incidents".

Up to 1,417 Palestinians were killed in the three-week offensive, which began on December 27 in 2008.

- 'Universal shame'

At least 426 children have been killed by Israeli forces in almost a month of attacks in Gaza, which began on July 7.

The United Nations also condemned the bombardment of a designated shelter by the Israelis, with UN Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl saying it was a "serious violation of international law”. 

“Children were killed in their sleep. This is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced," he said.

Yel added: "Israel did not expect such massive reactions from around the world."

"This war, begun by Israel's offensive, has exceeded Israel's previous capacity for horror," said Lamis Andoni.

A poll conducted for Israeli newspaper Haaretz by the firm Dialog on Tuesday showed that a decisive majority of respondents said they were unimpressed by the claims of victory made by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu.

- Offensive 'unjustified'

A total of 51 percent of Israeli respondents said that neither Israel nor Hamas had won the war, while 31 percent thought Israel had won and six percent believed Hamas was the victor. The number of respondents was not disclosed.

Meanwhile, almost two thirds of the British public (62 percent) said they believed the Israeli government was committing war crimes, according to a YouGov survey.

A Pew Research Center poll indicated that among 18- to 29-year-old Americans, 29 percent blamed Israel for the current violence, while 21 percent pointed to Hamas.   

A Gallup poll last week showed that a majority of non-white Americans under-50 viewed Israel's assault as "unjustified".

At least 1,867 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 9,500 others injured in the relentless Israeli attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Israel said 64 of its soldiers had been killed in battles with Palestinian fighters and three civilians by rocket fire.

"Every day, despite the death tolls from Gaza side, it is Israel who has been the one losing the war," said Yel.

The US government continued to supply hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel for fighter jets and military vehicles to Israel’s armed forces despite the soaring civilian death toll from their aerial and other military attacks, according to Amnesty International.

- NSA supporting Israel

“The US government is adding fuel to the fire by continuing its supply of the type of arms being used by Israel’s armed forces to violate human rights," said Brian Wood, Head of Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International. 

Since 2012, the USA has exported $276 million worth of basic weapons and munitions to Israel, a figure that excludes exports of military transport equipment and high military technology.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill on Monday giving Israel $225 million to restock its Iron Dome missile defense system.

Also, new revelations stemming from documents made available by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower, included information on the NSA increasing its surveillance assistance to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit, also known as Unit 8200, over the last decade.

The UK government has been forced to review the sale of £8bn in arms and military goods to Israel in light of the conflict in Gaza. 

The death toll in Gaza had soared ahead of Monday's 72-hour ceasefire.

Lamis Andoni said: "The Palestinians cannot be defeated by military force, therefore Israel seems to believe the only way to achieve its wanted victory is by killing every one. 

"If that's so, we will just have to see if the international community can stand by and ignore such a horror."

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