YouTube Yanks Israeli Army Videos

By Nathan Jeffay

Published December 30, 2008, issue of January 09, 2009.
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Tel Aviv — YouTube has removed videos that the Israeli army posted as part of a public relations effort to rally world opinion behind its operation in Gaza.

On December 29, the IDF began posting videos of its aerial strikes. The rationale was that it wanted to support the claim that it is not targeting civilians, but rather Hamas targets — especially rockets destined for Israel. It also posted footage of Israeli officials sending humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

However, on December 30, YouTube removed the four most-viewed videos, one of which received more than 10,000 hits. The videos all contained footage of bombings.

The removal appears to have been the result of a function of YouTube, which flags videos when a certain threshold of complaints is passed and routes them to an employee who decides whether or not to remove them. Some IDF videos showing footage of bombings were allowed to remain, apparently because they did not pass the threshold of complaints.

YouTube did not respond to a request by the Forward to clarify its procedures. The IDF’s understanding is that it has the right to appeal the decision. However, there are fears that the procedure could be drawn out, and the military created the YouTube account hoping for an instant impact on public opinion.

YouTube’s guidelines are unclear on what constitutes grounds for removal, though there is a rule that states: “Graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed. If your video shows someone being physically hurt, attacked, or humiliated, don’t post it.”

The IDF was “saddened” by the removal of its footage, a statement posted next to its remaining YouTube videos, read: “As the State of Israel again faces those who would see it destroyed, it is imperative that we in the IDF show the world the inhumanity directed against us and our efforts to stop it.”






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