Fighting on Beaches, Fields, Streets — and Twitter

Fighting on the beaches, fighting in the fields and streets — and fighting on the Internet:

The Twitter campaign of the Israeli Defense Forces is waged in the same call to arms for a besieged nation’s defense that Winston Churchill delivered to the House of Commons in June 1940:

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Day after day during three weeks of escalating warfare between Israel and Hamas, the IDF has made its case in a barrage of tweets underscoring the theme that Israel is a nation under attack. And the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, is fighting back with social media accounts of its own.

The government-sponsored social media account operates as a virtual newsreel for three quarters of a million people following it. The IDF follows more than 100 of its own sources, including the U.S. Department of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army, Marines and Air Force.

In the midst of rolling cease-fires violated within hours, the IDF makes the case that while the Israeli government is using missiles to defend people, Hamas is using people to defend missiles.

WATCH how it happens again and again: Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas in Gaza

As the Wall Street Journal noted last week, the IDF is not alone in the social-media fight: “In the current conflict, Israel is using a ballooning staff of professional public-relations officers skilled in social media and a near-real-time war zone video center,” the Journal’s reporters wrote.  “Hamas has been honing its own message on Twitter, while increasingly bringing responsibility for the effort in-house, instead of relying on outside activist groups to get its message across. Both the military and political arms of the organization operate accounts. The Arabic account of the military arm has attracted more than 58,000 followers.”

The Twitter account speaking for the al-Qassam Brigades comes complete with a disclaimer:

Roughly translated by Twitter: “Admitted to the Zionist enemy killing of six soldiers and wounding 10 others, including serious wounds after the fall of the mortar, at a gathering of soldiers east of Khuza’a village, southern Gaza Strip… 120 mm shells fell directly on the gathering of soldiers, not fewer than 70 soldiers.” and on another front: “ painful blow came to him from under the rubble, and where do not count, as written down Khuza’a today heroic epic to take revenge for the blood of innocent children and civilians, to prove to the enemy that our people and our resistance do not know refraction, and that the more of the arrogance and brutality will increase Mquaomtaatna ferocity, God willing. “

And that disclaimer:

— “Published comments are owned by the poster and do not reflect the opinion of Al-Qassam Brigades”

Though that account is following but one other @Spokespers: ``Spokesperson of Ezzeden Al Qassam Brigades in occupied Palestine.”

The spokesperson counts more than 56,000 followers.

As combatants for both sides have built their sites, the audience has come:

“There were 319,757 mentions of “Gaza” on Twitter… the day Israel started its ground war,’  the Journal noted. “That was more than the 270,292 tweets with a #worldcup hashtag during the World Cup final.”

Yet to follow any of these communications is to understand, in real time, the elusive nature of peace between a militant faction of Palestinians and Israelis.

What do you think about this article? Comment below!