Israel wages Twitter war with Hamas over #Gaza

 

Washington

The Israeli Defense Forces took to its Twitter account Wednesday to announce "a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the Gaza Strip" even as its jets began attacking.

Within minutes, Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, announced through its English-language account the assassination of its "top leader Ahmed Jabari" by "Israeli drones." Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Israel.

Social networking sites such as those operated by Twitter and Facebook have been used to energize political campaigns, promote movies, raise awareness and, in the Middle East, galvanize the popular revolutions of the Arab Spring. Now, Israel and Hamas have used them to exchange threats and report attacks in real-time to followers worldwide.

The IDF's Twitter account, one of several from the Israeli government commenting on the operation, promoted a blog with updates, "photos & videos all in one place." Within minutes of the strike on Jabari Wednesday, the IDF spokesman's office posted video of his car exploding on Google Inc.'s YouTube and it was circulating on Twitter.

At the start of day two of the conflict, the IDF posted, "Good morning to our friends in #America. While you were sleeping, 3 Israelis were killed when a rocket hit their house." On its YouTube channel, the IDF posted a video showing warning leaflets being dropped over civilian areas in Gaza and another on "what gives Israel the right to defend itself."

As Israeli jets Wednesday bombarded suspected missile facilities and other buildings in Gaza, the service run by San Francisco-based Twitter lit up with 140-character chronicles of the assault and the reaction. Most of the messages known as tweets were identified with #Gaza, a "hashtag" with a pound sign before a key word that lets those on Twitter search for information.

The two sides fought for public sympathy through the names they gave the operation. While Israeli tweeters called it #PillarOfDefense, Palestinians used #GazaUnderAttack.

The IDF's message-writers said the operation's main goals were to protect Israeli civilians and "cripple the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza strip." Hamas tweeted Thursday, "#Israel's military kills #Palestinian children in cold blood in #Gaza."

The IDF tweeted about the number of rockets (768) that Gazans had fired into Israel since the beginning of 2012 and wrote of real-time success in damaging Hamas's "long-range missile capabilities" and underground weapons storage. The Israelis warned Hamas that "if necessary, the IDF is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza."

Hamas retaliated with tweets about hitting "Isnad Sofa base with 6 mortars in response on assassination of its leader #AhmedJabari."

Journalists weighed in too. Jon Donnison, the West Bank and Gaza correspondent for the BBC, reported Wednesday the "sound of gunfire across #Gaza. News of Ahmed Habari's killing being broadcast from mosques. Fear here is another war." A colleague's baby was later killed in a strike and he tweeted about that as well.

As airstrikes intensified yesterday, an IDF spokesman tweeted that "we recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces aboveground in the days ahead."

Hamas's @AlqassamBrigades account quickly retorted, "@idfspokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves."

In the democratic virtual world of Twitter, anyone can comment on a tweet, and many did. Someone identifying himself as Doug Pologe asked "in what way have your 'blessed hands' ever benefited the world?"

A man who said he was Joe Bua and whose profile indicated he is from San Diego, California, tweeted to spokesmen for both sides: "Twitter is not a diplomacy tool. Stop killing each other. I support neither of you."

People living inside Gaza and in the areas of southern Israel that border the Palestinian territory documented the operation in intense bursts.

Someone identifying himself as Moshe Kwiat tweeted to his followers "alarms going off in Be'er Sheva and Sderot," southern cities often hit by rocket fire. He had adopted the hashtag, #StopTheRockets.

A user calling herself Dima-Gaza from inside "Occupied Palestine-Gaza" sent out an early message that said "explosions are everywhere, non-stop explosions and Israeli warplanes are hovering over Gaza."

Later, Dima-Gaza tweeted, "PLEASE don't cut the electricity," and later still, "HUGE explosions #WTF."

Some writers expressed disgust at the way the operation was playing out in the virtual world.

Someone who said he was Joseph Dana and identified himself as a writer based in the Eastern Mediterranean, wrote,"Good lord. It's official, the Israeli army spokesperson has turned Gaza operation name into a hashtag #PillarOfDefense."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home