Yes, it has come to that. Our real-time world of real-time media now includes real-time war.
Israel’s army is live-blogging and live-tweeting operation Pillar of Defense, its attacks on Hamas rocket sites in the Gaza strip. The current military campaign is in response, it says, to more than 700 rocket attacks from Gaza this year.
Update Nov. 15: Israel’s army, the IDF has gamified its war blog.
Rocket attack on Israel, and Israel’s retaliation, are nothing new, sadly.
The unprecedented and almost unbelievable part, however, is that the Israeli Defense Forces blog has been updated multiple times today with details on the attacks: intercepts of missiles fired from Gaza, pictures of what IDF says are Hamas rocket-launching sites, and Israeli Navy strikes on what it claims are terror sites in the Gaza Strip.
Reminiscent of Desert Storm, during which images of the daily destruction flashed across our TV screens every night, video of the fight is now available almost in real time via YouTube. The IDF blog highlighted a video of a missile strike that obliterated a vehicle apparently carrying Ahmed Jabari, who it says is the head of Hamas’ military wing in Gaza — and then tweeted his photo with the word “ELIMINATED” superimposed in all-caps.
Palestinian fighters are answering back with fresh attacks on Israel, documented via Twitter. Predictably, they are condemning the attack and threatening more retribution. This tweet, from Al Qassam, is just a sample of 10 or more in the last hour announcing shelling of Israeli air force bases with Katyusha rockets and mortars in response to Jabari’s killing:
Alqassam Brigades (@AlqassamBrigade) November 14, 2012
The IDF says its mobile missile defense system Iron Dome – an Israeli equivalent of the U.S. Army’s Patriot anti-missile defense system — has intercepted at least 17 missiles fired from Gaza.
But why Israel is liveblogging and tweeting the attacks is unclear. Israel has long felt that international media is heavily biased in favor of Palestinian fighters, but tweets like the one announcing Jabari’s death seem more likely to provoke a violent response than to help stop the confrontation:
Ahmed Jabari: Eliminated. http://t.co/sCnQnKkM—
IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
We tend to jump all over pro athletes, brands, and celebrities who tweet things that offend our sensibilities, or strike us as cruel, rude, or insensitive. But war is orders of magnitude worse.
And I, of course, am now complicit in this social media war.