Is this the future of warfare? While rockets continue falling across Israel, with air raid sirens being sounded in Tel Aviv for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, Israel is fighting back in more ways than one. Operation Pillar of Defense is ongoing, and now that citizens of Tel Aviv have found themselves in stairwells and basements, it is likely that the possibility of a ground invasion just increased exponentially. The second front in the offensive against Hamas’s aggression has formed on the web. This is the first time a war has been live-tweeted.
It began with an IDF tweet yesterday, soon after the targeted assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari, the military commander of Hamas. The IDF’s official account tweeted:
We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
Soon after, the official account for Hamas responded:
@idfspokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)
— Alqassam Brigades (@AlqassamBrigade) November 14, 2012
That began a series of tweets from both accounts directed at each other. For the first time, each side could tell observers, without using the mainstream media as a channel, what they were fighting for and why. Unfortunately for Hamas, the increased scrutiny has made it much more difficult to get away with public relations antics it has utilized in previous conflicts.
Yesterday the official Hamas feed tweeted a photo of dead child, held in the arms of a sobbing man without any reference about who or where the victims were. Unfortunately for Hamas, many Twitter users immediately recognized the photo. It wasn’t from Gaza and it wasn’t even that recent; it was from Syria. While the Hamas feed has continually claimed that its civilians are under attack by the Israeli military, the proof they provide has been much more easily fact-checked by millions of Twitter users.
Israel is using social media to explain the morality of the war it is fighting in the Gaza strip, filled with civilians. From their official YouTube account, video has been posted of leaflets being dropped on residents, explaining how they can best protect themselves in the fighting between the terrorist organization and the Jewish state. On the IDF’s website, an entire blog post explained the lengths Israel goes to in order to minimize civilian casualties. In the war of information, Israel’s detailed accounts of its activities are much more persuasive than misleading pictures from Syria posted on Twitter by Hamas without context.