There’s lots of news about the Aid Flotilla organized by the Free Gaza Movement . Israel claims that weapons were used by the activists when the ships were boarded by Israeli Commandos. Their use of deadly force was therefore justified. For what it’s worth, Haneen Zoubi Israeli member of parliament who was on the Mavi Marmara, claims the Israeli gunfire started before the commandos boarded . Evidence of the Weapons? There were photos posted on Flickr recently by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Flickr account. They created a set of pictures of the weapons found on the Mavi Marmara . To me they look like the kinds of things you’d have on a ship where you were at sea, providing food for 600 people. Mostly kitchen knives, plus some construction tools. Originally the Israeli spokespersons claimed the activists opened fire on the Israeli commandos. The evidence they cited has disappeared. Look at the pictures yourself The Dates Are Wrong! Are They Faked? Because clearly Israel’s story has changed as time as gone on, people are looking over everything Israel publishes or states on the issue of the flotilla raid. When Flickr processes an image that is uploaded, it shows all the hidden EXIF information . Image files have all sorts of nifty information about the camera that took them. Sometimes they have location, eg GPS, information, if the camera has that supports it. Often it has a date and time stamp of the photo. Take a look for yourself at the info EXIF Info . So we know something about the camera which took the picture. We know it’s a Pentax Optio 550 a point and shoot camera. They also say that the camera’s “home city” is New York. Perhaps they bought the camera at B&H where i like to buy cameras sometimes. The Dates So, the date, Flickr had the picture uploaded on June 1, 2010 at 12.49PM IDT. From that, they determined that it was most likely that the picture was taken at June 1, 2010 at 4.34am IDT. About an hour after the raid. That’s Flickr’s best bet as to when the picture was originally taken. The EXIF data says something else. It says the picture was taken 2003:01:01 14:34:55. That is, January 1st 2003 at 2:34pm. What happens is camera’s reset their internal clock when their batteries are removed. Most cameras have two sets of batteries, the ones you take out and charge, and an internal smaller battery, to keep track of things like the clock. That internal battery has probably died. The photographer put in batteries 14 hours before he took the pictures, the camera reset it’s clock, and it thinks all photos are taken on january 1st of the year the camera was made. The Pantax Optio 550 was produced in 2003. Hence that’s the date the camera always think’s it is. Looking deeper in to the file i came across this: File Modified Date: 2010:06:01 09:49:07+00:00 Right now Israel is GMT +3, so that’s 12:49 that the file was modified. In this case modification was probably being copied or changing the file name. It doesn’t mean the contents of the image were changed. Low and behold, 12:49 local time, is exactly when it was uploaded to Flickr. Credit to jonathan mcintosh for first pointing this out in comments on flickr pointing this out. I just did some more research and flushed out did a little more digging. I figured it’d be good to have this as a blog post and not just buried in a photo comment. The January 1st Problem A huge percentage of cameras who have incorrect or bad internal batteries and therefore have incorrect date/time stamping. Despite all the new year’s photos, January First simply is a data outlier in terms of digital photos. Asking Flickr Wanting to know more, i talked to Kellan , the project architect at Flickr, and he speculated that “we are perhaps only a year or two away from photos being inadmissible for evidence. Video is harder to fake, but it’s coming.” There’s a video too That pretty much shows the same scene they took pictures of and posted on Flickr. Focus on the real issues There are real and important issues to talk about with regard to the raid on the flotilla and the inhumane blockade of the Gaza strip. It is hard to get at the truth of what happend. Looking at the dates of the pictures posted is venturing in to conspiracy theory land and not useful. It marginalizes the important issues and focuses on the trivia. More to the point, don’t you think they’d have put some gun’s in those pictures if they were going to fake them? A few kitchen knives and building supplies are hardly a compelling case to make.