A decades-long violent conflict between Israel and Palestine
does not seem to be a likely platform for a social media exchange on Twitter
and elsewhere, but the past twenty-four hours has challenged that. Yesterday
marked the beginning of an Israeli offensive in Gaza, with the intention of
killing Hamas leader Ahmed Said Kalil al-Jabari which proved successful.
Before YouTube took the video down, people were able to view
a video shot by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) that documented a
straight-forward assault on the Gaza Strip leading to the death of al-Jabari.
The IDF was also taking to Twitter to offer both updates to followers, as well
as warnings to Hamas about more to come. Hamas also took to Twitter to offer
their own side of the war with @AlqassamBrigade – the military cohort of Hamas.
Both sides were shooting off Tweets to each other in a weird version of cyber
warfare that I couldn't help but feel was a type of cyber-gladitator fight. All
Tweets were written in English, signifying that the messages were just as much
for the rest of the Western world to see as the opposing sides. The IDF went
under the identity of IDFSpokesperson and called for others to spread their own message with the hashtag
I do not wish to dive into the complicated politics of the
Israel/Palestine conflict, as this is not the place to conduct such a
discussion. However, the conflict – and the means in which they have taken to
social media – is another discussion worth uncovering.
This type of exchange on social media has never quite been
seen before. When it comes to social networks, we tend to place the intention
of using them as either a branding opportunity, or simply a means of staying in
touch. That is how they started out at least. But the Middle Eastern conflict
has a revealed a new side to social networks, and no one is quite sure how to
It could be said that one's political agenda, whether it be
Israel or anyone else, has the ability to be promulgated through social media
like no other medium. During the dragged out Obama and Romney campaign,
Americans saw how connected social media can make us, but the polarization was
hard to ignore as well. This new campaign by the conflict is of a whole new
sort, and when Tweets are created in positive response to people getting
killed, there must be a line that we all must see.
War is a sensitive subject to touch, and bringing social
media doesn't make it any easier. Is war, especially two representatives of the
sides involved, an event where social media should act as a hub? Does this go
too far? The debate could go on and on with agreers and dissidents probably
listing both valid explanation for their perspective.
There is an unsettling feeling about seeing live “death”
Tweets and YouTube videos showing up on my screen – I do know that much.
Author Bio – Josephine Girard is a frequent
contributor to DX3 – a technology blog that looks into related
developments in technology and the effects that they have on society.