A somewhat distressing new chapter in the world of social media has been opened, as the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and Hamas broadcast their ongoing battle over Twitter.
Things kicked off on Wednesday, as the IDF tweeted, "The IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the #Gaza Strip, chief among them #Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets."
This effectively represents the first time war has ever been declared on Twitter.
The IDF subsequently took to the social media site to announce the death of Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of Hamas' military wing, alongside a video of the attack and an "eliminated" poster. Alqassam Brigades responded by confirming al-Jabari's death.
The IDF soon after posted a thinly cloaked threat, "We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead," to which Alqassam Brigades retorted, "Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)."
The two accounts consequently launched their own live commentaries on events, exploiting Twitter's publicity for the sake of an intense propaganda battle, which many ordinary tweeters have followed and participated in.
However, it turns out that these activities could be in breach of Twitter's rules, since the site expressly prohibits the publishing of "direct, specific threats of violence against others."
Twitter is yet to confront the actions of either party.
On a related note, hacking collective Anonymous this week launched Operation Israel, and has taken down several Israeli websites, after reports emerged that Israel plans to sever Gaza's Internet services.