The Gaza Freedom Flotilla consisted of six ships carrying humanitarian aid, medical supplies and construction materials, setting out to break Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. Organised by the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH), the flotilla set sail on May 30th, 2010 and its ships were boarded and seized by Israel Defense Forces on May 31st.
The seizure of the Gaza flotilla prompted global shock, concern and condemnation from the general public, governments and political figures. Over a 10 day period (28th May – 6th Jun), the Gaza Freedom Flotilla generated 95,101 social media mentions, demonstrating the strong public reaction to the incident. On 31st May – the day of the boarding and seizure of the ships – over 32,404 comments were recorded, with the outpour continuing for the following two days with an additional 43,000+ comments.
Middle East online reaction
In the Middle East region, a total of 9,941 social media mentions were recorded, with Egypt alone generating over 7,545 comments (2nd highest number of comments after the US). The GCC region followed with over 1,350 comments and Levant with close to 1,000 comments. Comments were posted by people of all age groups, although 43% were in the 18-24 years age group and a further 21% between 25-34 age group.
Over a third of the total social media mentions were negative (36%), reflecting the extent of the outrage over the incident. 18% of all comments online were in the mid-popularity range, and 13% in the high-popularity range, meaning that the initial comments evoked a high number of followers adding their own views on the topic.