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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Content and PR

£35000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Partnerships Manager

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a newly-created partne...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor