Balloons released by Ha-Ir newspaper as part of marketing campaign reach
southern Beirut. Hizbullah claim that balloons were sent by Israel to poison
Lebanese sparks wave of hysteria
Yaakov Lappin YNET Published: 01.31.07, 18:40
A marketing campaign launched by the Ha-Ir chain of local Israeli newspapers
has been used by Hizbullah to spread anti-Israel propaganda, according to
which "Israeli poisonous balloon attacks" have left eight Lebanese nationals
in the hospital.
Hizbullah's campaign appears to have paid off, after it created a wave of
hysteria in Lebanon. Reports of 'poisonous' balloons have subsequently been
picked up by the Associated Press (AP) and the London based Al-Jazeera
magazine, which quickly followed suit in a report entitled: "Israel dumps
suspicious green balloons on Lebanon".
On Wednesday, Hizbullah's website claimed that "in Beirut's southern
suburbs, poisonous balloons with Hebrew markings, similar to the ones found
in the south, have been discovered. Security forces are currently
investigating the issue."
Alon Idan, Deputy Editor of Ha-Ir in Tel Aviv, told Ynet that the balloons
were released as part of a new marketing campaign for the chain of local
newspapers, and drifted across the Lebanese border after being picked up by
'Mysterious balloons unnerving people'
"These are celebratory balloons to market Ha-Ir," Idan said. "According to
Israel Goldstein, CEO of the Shoken Network of local newspapers, (which owns
Ha-Ir), one package of the balloons was picked up by the wind and flew off.
These are marketing balloons. They contain no poison," he said.
As well as the balloons, Ha-Ir's marketing campaign has also included ads
broadcast on Israeli television.
That did not stop Al-Jazeera from saying that " media reports and security
sources revealed on Sunday that Israeli planes dumped 10 suspicious green
balloons over the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre on Saturday."
The frenzied reports began last Sunday, when Hizbullah's English-language
website said that "eight people were hospitalized Saturday after inhaling
toxic gases from poisonous balloons dropped by Israeli warplanes over Upper
Nabatiyeh in southern Lebanon."
According to Hizbullah, they "were rushed to hospital suffering from nausea
and fatigue," and included "a Lebanese staff sergeant, a recruit and An
Nahar reporter Rana Jouni."
The Associated Press reported on Monday that "mysterious balloons drifting
in from Israel to Lebanon are unnerving people, with some south Lebanon
villagers reportedly feeling ill and authorities warning residents against
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