Fence Hearings Stir Internet Chat Frenzy

The start of the hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague has sparked a wave of e-mails inviting Israeli Internet users to visit Web sites hosting on-line petitions for and against the separation fence.

Most of the Israeli discussion groups dedicated to current affairs were taken over by talk of the events in The Hague. Any surfer brave enough to air his views in the discussion group was immediately met by furious reactions from members of the opposing camp.

A member of the Current Affairs forum at the Tapuz Web site, for example, wrote that the fence should be erected along the Green Line. Within half an hour, there were 43 responses to the message, some of which accused the original message poster of collaboration with Palestinian propaganda efforts.

The huge international interest in the ICJ hearings led to the collapse of the Internet site that was supposed to broadcast live pictures from inside the court (www.icj-cij.org/videostream.html). The ICJ decided to broadcast the proceedings because of the massive media interest. The court, which was aware that the Web site could crash, announced in advance that it would set up an archive to allow users to view the day's proceedings.