Gazans spoof Van Damme video to highlight plight

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are spoofing a viral online video featuring Jean Claude Van Damme to highlight their suffering.

In the original video, the Belgian martial artist-actor does a split between two Volvo semitrailers driving in reverse. The ad, to show the precision of Volvo steering, has drawn more than 61 million views on YouTube.

In the Gaza version, the camera focuses in on a Palestinian mirroring Van Damme's solemn expression of concentration, as a voiceover talks of the tiny territory's woes like electricity and water cut-offs. "Still, Van Damme isn't better than me," the voice declares.

But, it adds, "unfortunately, there is no gas in town."

The camera pulls back to reveal he is standing on two cars being pushed down a highway by several other men. As the cars draw apart, he does a slight split.

Gaza has suffered from chronic fuel shortages since Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory in response to the Hamas militant group's seizure of power in 2007. The situation has worsened since a coup in neighboring Egypt last July. The country's military rulers have tightened the blockade and destroyed smuggling tunnels used to ship cheap fuel into the territory.

While the rival Palestinian government in the West Bank can send fuel to Gaza through Israel, Gaza's Hamas rulers have refused to accept the shipments, saying they cannot afford a new tax. Israel delivered a shipment of fuel this week, paid for by Qatar.

The "Tashwesh" group behind the video says they hope it will draw attention to Gaza's ills.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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