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Israel army pushes Gaza assault via Twitter, YouTube

AFP, Thursday 15 Nov 2012
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As Israeli warplanes pound Gaza, the military has launched an unprecedented communications strategy on social networks by posting real time information about its assault on the Palestinian territory.

With live-tweets, videos on YouTube, updates on Facebook and graphics on blogging platform Tumblr, the tech-savvy Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have blanketed social networks with their take on the deadly assault.

The violence began on Wednesday afternoon with Israel's targeted killing of a top Hamas military commander, which kicked off a violent confrontation that has so far claimed the lives of 14 Gazans.

Since then, the army's Twitter account @IDFSpokesperson -- which also exists in French (@Tsahal_IDF) and Spanish (@FDIonline) -- has pushed out multiple updates on the operation using the hashtags #IsraelUnderFire or #PillarOfDefense.

"The IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the #Gaza Strip, chief among them #Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets," it tweeted on Wednesday, before announcing it had targeted Hamas commander Ahmed Jaabari.

Later, the IDF tweeted a picture of Jaabari on a red background with the word "Eliminated" splashed across it, alongside a description of several crimes of which Israel accused him.

It has also used Twitter to send a warning to Hamas.

"We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead," read one of IDF's posts, which has been retweeted nearly 4,000 times (bit.ly/T3pI4x).

The tweet drew a near immediate response from @AlqassamBrigade, the Twitter account of the armed wing of Hamas, which accused Israel of having "opened hell gates on yourselves." (bit.ly/XFYzHi).

Hamas is also using this Twitter account to push out news of its activities and post disturbing photos of alleged child victims.

The IDF also linked to a video of the air strike which killed Jaabari.

And on YouTube, it has put up videos seeking to explain "what gives Israel the right to defend itself" (bit.ly/SrwDAe) or "how does the IDF minimise harm to Palestinian civilians." (bit.ly/TKRnVj).

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