Israeli Defense Forces Announce Major Assault on Gaza via Twitter, Live-Blog the Whole Thing

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 14 2012 3:15 PM

Israeli Defense Forces Announce Major Assault on Gaza via Twitter, Live-Blog the Whole Thing

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Palestinian firefighters extinguish fire from the car of Ahmed al-Jabari, head of the military wing of Hamas, after it was hit by an Israeli air strike

Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images

Wars are started via Twitter now. I am not talking about flame wars, but actual wars with actual bombs with in-real-life targets.

At 9:29 Eastern this morning, the Israeli Defense Force announced via Twitter that it would be attacking targets in Hamas today, as part of an ongoing mission “to protect Israeli civilians and to cripple the terrorist infrastructure in the#Gaza Strip.” Here is that first tweet announcing the operation:

IDF tweet screencap
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As Fast Company noted, this is the first time a military campaign has been announced via Twitter (instead of by press conference).

The IDF tweet wasn't just an idle threat either. Within minutes, the IDF spokesperson tweeted that forces had actually already carried out an attack on a target, the “head of the #Hamas military wing,” Ahmed al-Jabari. IDF is live-blogging the attacks, too.

If that level of transparency isn't astounding enough, the IDF even tweeted a video of the attack less than three hours later, along with the hashtag #PillarOfDefense. Pillar of Defense is the name of the IDF operation, reports Reuters.

The video is taken from a camera presumably mounted on an aerial vehicle. Whether it was the plane that dropped the missile that killed Ahmed Al-Jabari, or just a plane monitoring the missile drop, is unclear.

Can you imagine the U.S. military releasing footage of an attack against an enemy combatant within hours?   

Tweets and press releases aside, the IDF has upped the ante significantly with its live-blogging super-transparency initiative here. While I admittedly feel a bit queasy at IDF's deft usage of Twitter and social media as part of their state propaganda machine, I can't deny the merits of this approach. The IDF video attack on Ahmed Al-Jabari shows the forces took care to minimize casualties—and also  made it next to impossible for Hamas to deny his death.

Besides the attack on Ahmed Al-Jabari, the IDF tweeted it had “seriously damaged Hamas' long-range missile capabilities (40 km/25 mi range) & underground weapons storage facilities.”  Reuters confirmed these attacks with eye witnesses and reported on seven casualties, two of which have been described as “little girls.” 

This type of total military transparency is extremely innovative, while providing what so far appears to be good PR for the IDF. Time will tell if other nations adopt similar approaches to armed conflict.

Update, Nov. 14, 3:20 p.m.: This new tweet from the IDF is almost certain to go viral.

IDF-Jabari tweet

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Fruzsina Eördögh is a freelance writer covering digital culture and technology. Follow her on Twitter.

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