Israel, Hamas take their latest conflict online

By: MELISSA CASTILLO

Battlegrounds became virtual with the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas militants when they exchanged heated tweets in order to sway public perception. It was on Wednesday of last week that Israeli defenses announced a “widespread campaign on terror sites and operatives in the Gaza Strip” after launching its campaign against Hamas by killing their top commander Ahmed Jabari. The popular hashtags have been “IsraelUnderFire” and “GazaUnderAttack” from the opposition.

Israel forces also posted “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.” Hamas responded through its English account, “Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever you are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves).” It’s interesting how social media is considered to be influential enough for international and government organizations to use it as a platform for threats.

Israeli expanded their social media presence with a YouTube channel, Facebook, Flickr photo albums, and a Tumblr. Military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said that an “additional war zone” developed on the Internet. She’s the head of a two-month-old branch of the IDF called “Interactive Media” with about 30 soldiers trained in writing and graphic design skills.

Hamas has also been a part of the social media world with a regularly updated Facebook page and SMS distribution list. The fact that both sides of such a serious and violent conflict use social media to gain support and get their message to the world shows that conflicts are more about just winning it on the ground, it’s now about winning through public opinion as well.

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