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French Version

Web site opposing Israeli offensive stays online despite best efforts of hackers

Despite repeated attempts by hackers to shut down a Web site condemning the ongoing Israeli assault on Lebanon and hosting a petition against the onslaught, "the Web site continues to operate and attract more signatures," the site's founder told The Daily Star.

The webmaster of http://julywar.epetition.net, who agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity, said: "I have received many angry e-mails from Israel because of the Web site and the number of signatures, especially as most of the people signing the petition are Westerners."

As The Daily Star went to press the petition had collected over 175,000 signatures and was gathering more.

Critics have called for the site to be closed, "reporting it as abuse - accusing us of being anti-Semitic. If you check the signatures, you will see the number of non-Arabs signing the petition," the webmaster said.

The idea for the site, according to its creator, "was written by a member on the forum of the Free Patriotic Movement's unofficial Web site."

"I created the Web site and launched it July 15," he said. "Having any kind of influence on governments is a plus."

Seemingly countless such Web sites have been created by Lebanese and foreigners alike, urging visitors to sign a sea of petitions condemning Israel's "atrocities" and/or "a request for a cease-fire."

"Very few of these sites have been successful (in their goal)," said the webmaster. "I saw a couple of other petitions, most with a few hundred signatures."

The webmaster added that, due to the volume of traffic, what had begun as an independently funded project has now become dependent on donations.

"We had to move to a better service that can handle the traffic, so we accepted online donations to cover the costs. Many people from different parts of the world contributed, and the majority were not Arabs," he said.

Other Web sites have chosen to document the carnage.

Some, such as www.abouyounes.com/Lebanon18-07-2006.htm, even come with a warning of "choking images," and for good reason.

For those undaunted by the warning, the site provides a naked, uncensored documentation of the human cost of Israel's "measured and appropriate" response, as described by the Canadian prime minister in the first days of the crisis.

The site also contains a link to the "julywar" petition.

"Lebanese civilians have been under the constant attack of Israel ... Israel, in disregard to international law and the Geneva Conventions, is launching a maritime and air siege targeting the entire population of the country. Innocent civilians are being collectively punished in Lebanon by Israel in deliberate acts of terrorism," the petition reads.

In an open letter posted on "abouyounes," Maggie G., a Lebanese citizen, said: "Is this genocide in the making? Is the world willing and wanting to eradicate a whole country? ... Look at the photos; see the misery, the grief, the anger, the bloodshed, and the tears."

Beirut 26-07-2006
Leila Hatoum
The Daily Star

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