Since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense last Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces has been actively working to present Israel’s military actions to the world in a positive light.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit has published a steady stream of videos in recent days, including some that highlight lies that the IDF says Hamas has propagated in the media since the fighting started.
The unit has also embedded combat photographers with various units that may enter Gaza if a ground operation is launched.
The unit’s Interactive Media Department has been busy on social networking platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, to get the IDF’s message out to the world.
One graphic published by the department showed missiles flying over London, New York, Paris and Sydney under the question “What would you do?” in bold red letters. The graphic was “Liked” and “Shared” by thousands of Facebook users around the world.
In addition to the efforts being conducted by the IDF and the Public Diplomacy Ministry, many Israeli students are using the Internet for initiatives to portray Israel’s situation to the world. On Thursday, students at the Ariel University Center opened an operations room to distribute photos and personal accounts of residents of southern Israel. The Student Union at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya established a similar operations room. IDC students are translating messages from the Public Diplomacy Ministry, Prime Minister’s Office and IDF into 19 different languages, including Portuguese, Spanish, German and French.
Jewish communities throughout the world have found various ways to show support for Israel in recent days, including solidarity rallies, Facebook and letter-writing campaigns and telephone conversations with Israelis living under the threat of rocket fire.
Pro-Palestinian groups have been waging their own propaganda battle as well since Wednesday.
Hamas, through the Twitter account of its military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, falsely claimed that it had achieved a direct hit on Tel Aviv and on three IDF bases. In another instance, Hamas published photos of a crying father holding his wounded child, but it emerged that the picture had in fact been published in Syria a month ago. The IDF also exposed a staged image of a wounded Palestinian that had been distributed to media outlets. A video showed the same man walking around unharmed shortly after the staged image was taken. There are also reports that a wounded child held up to the cameras by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital was actually hurt by Hamas fire.
As expected, the number of cyber attacks on Israeli websites has increased since the fighting in Gaza started. Around 400 Israeli computer networks have been hacked, causing some of them to crash.
Pro-Palestinian hackers also published the personal e-mails of Israeli soldiers and officers on the Al-Quds Brigades website. According to the hackers, the listed IDF personnel were likely to take part in future ground attacks in the Gaza Strip, and the post included their military ID numbers, telephone numbers and home addresses.
Additionally, the Hamas’ military wing claimed it had sent text messages to 5,000 Israeli soldiers, telling them, “We will turn Gaza into a cemetery for your soldiers.”
Meanwhile, a jeep carrying two Reuters journalists near the Israel-Gaza border was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza on Friday. A local Israeli security officer who rescued the two photographers said the jeep had been completely destroyed. Neither of the journalists suffered injuries, except for light scratches. The two later told their friends that they were on a photo assignment when they felt a sudden explosion and the vehicle started burning.
On Sunday, the IDF targeted Hamas’ “communications operations,” as Israeli aircraft bombed two buildings in Gaza used by Hamas and foreign media outlets.
The Israeli strikes damaged the top floor offices of the Hamas TV station, Al-Aqsa, and a Lebanese-based broadcaster, Al-Quds TV, seen as sympathetic to Hamas.
A Gaza press association said six Palestinian journalists were wounded in the attacks. Foreign broadcasters, including German and Italian TV outlets, also had offices in the buildings.
The Israeli military said it was aiming at a communications antenna on the roof of one of the buildings. It had no immediate comment on the other strike. The Foreign Press Association in Israel demanded an explanation from the IDF as to why it was targeting international media facilities, which hold journalists who are protected by international legal conventions.