Deadline Extended

Know a young conservative who should be on Red Alert's 2015 '30 Under 30' List? Nominate them by May 29.

Twitter, social media, on the front lines of Israeli attack

When Israeli forces attacked the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing a top Hamas military leader, they declared their intentions to the world on Twitter.

Since then, both sides have been involved in a Twitter war with military commanders live-tweeting the action on the ground in Gaza while sending inflammatory tweets to the Twitter account of their opponents.

“We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead,” the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson (@IDFSpokesperson) account tweeted Wednesday. The tweet was re-tweeted more than 2500 times.

What is believed to be the official Twitter account of the Hamas military wing, Alqassam Brigades, quickly replied, “Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves).”

Hamas, a party regarded as a terrorist group by the United States, Israel and Europe, has controlled the Gaza Strip, an area on the coast of the Mediterranean close to twice the size of Washington, D.C. between Israel and Egypt, since 2006.

Since then Israelis and Hamas have been involved in a constant struggle, often shooting rockets and inflicting violence on one another. This attack is a response to an increase in rocket fire into southern Israel by militant groups in Gaza.

The battle marks the first major conflict between the two powers since 2008 when Israeli forces invaded Gaza and killed 1400 people in response to a Hamas barrage of rocket fire.

@IDFSpokesperson sent over 25 tweets during the five-hour attack as well as multiple videos of the fighting including one that showed the explosion which killed Hamas’ top military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari.

At the end of the attack, the Israeli forces tweeted:

This attack marks the first time any large-scale military operation was handled through Twitter. Social media has been playing an increasingly larger role in the dissemination of information, especially in the Middle East, but never in such an official capacity.

Twitter has slowly taken over as one of the main sources for breaking news. Events like the death of Osama Bin Laden, the Hudson River plane crash and political campaign announcements were announced by by-standers on Twitter before any official statement could be made.

Experts say conflicts on Twitter could be a big part of the trend of future warfare tactics, which may make it more difficult to reach a cease fire.

“This is a new reality of war,” Heather Hurlburt, executive director of the National Security Network think tank in Washington, told the Los Angeles Times.  “And I worry that it’s going to make it harder to stand down.”

Others contend that the virtual atmosphere of an online battle distances viewers from the reality of violence and turns real time warfare into a computer game.

“I find it strange that there are people who find it thrilling to watch someone being assassinated in real time. In some cases, it looks perversely like a game,” said Michael Dahan, professor of Internet and politics at Sapir College in Israel, according to the Los Angeles Times. “It puts the audience in the front seat of war, but what they see is strictly controlled by the IDF.”

Since the attack, the IDF, which has reached more than 130,000 followers, has been tweeting information about the situation in southern Israel, photos and videos of horribly injured Israelis and blog posts describing the attack and the reasons that prompted it.

The conflict in Gaza is far from over, already the Israelis have called up 16,000 reserve soldiers to prepare for a possible ground invasion of Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the army is prepared for a “significant widening” of operations in Gaza.

Observers from across the globe are hooked to their Twitter accounts as they experience a whole new way of watching the story unfold in real time over social media channels.

Comments

Polititainment

Anti-Stephanopoulos artwork invades NYC

Posters depicting ABC News anchor George Stephanopolous and a smiling Hillary Clinton with the words "PayPal" and "Donate" written on them have been popping up close to the studio where ABC shoots Good Morning America.

Rubio gets first celeb endorsement

The Florida senator and official GOP candidate for president has just received a big celebrity endorsement from Rick Harrison of the popular show "Pawn Stars," according to a report in the Las Vegas Sun.

Snoop Dogg endorses Hillary Clinton

Snoop Dogg became the latest rapper to endorse the Democratic presidential candidate during his appearance on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" over the weekend.

John Oliver shocked by House NSA reform

John Oliver was shocked to hear that the House recently passed NSA reform.

Introducing the 2016 SNL primary

The weekend comedy show has been skewering candidates for president left and right -- some more than others -- so much so that we thought it a good idea to track the program's focus on specific candidates.

Video

t u

2016

AP reporter: Hillary only talking to supporters

According to Associated Press reporter Julie Pace, the small events that have made up the bulk of Hillary's presidential campaign thus far have involved the Democratic candidate only interacting with Americans who support her and not a more representative fraction of the actual U.S. population.

Sanders made $2K for paid speeches in 2014
When Bernie Sanders suggested that Hillary Clinton will have more money than him in 2016, he wasn’t kidding. The Independent senator from Vermont, who will compete with Hillary for the Democratic nomination for president next year, made a grand total of $1,867.42 for two paid speeches and a television appearance during the entire year of 2014, as […]
Hillary Clinton, "The small business president"

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton's official campaign Twitter account was operated by small-business owner Mary Jo Brown, as part of Clinton's attempt to gain support from small business owners.

50 Cent endorses Hillary Clinton

The rapper, who flip-flopped on his support for Clinton in 2008 to instead back Barack Obama, endorsed Hillary in a recent interview with The Daily Beast.

Republicans satisfied with 2016 field

According a Pew Research Center study, 57 percent of Republican and right-leaning registered voters have a favorable opinion of the crop of candidates running for their party's nomination in 2016.

Policy

Professor: Americans can't handle owning guns

In an op-ed for The Dallas Morning News, Prof. John Traphagan, who teaches religious studies and anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, demands that Americans give up gun ownership after several tragic, high-profile shootings that have taken place recently.

Obama: Climate change is a security 'threat'

Obama spoke of global warming's looming threat during his commencement address to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, Wednesday.

Poll: Most Americans highly value privacy

For all the talk about “privacy,” the word “privacy” can sometimes be a nebulous concept, about which people hold contradictory views.

Poll: Dems support federal ban on hate speech
It seems that a lot of Americans don’t think that freedom of speech should be protected anymore. A poll released Wednesday by YouGov has found that a small majority of the American public support limiting the First Amendment if it means banning hate speech. The poll, conducted in early May, asked respondents whether they would support […]
Rand Paul filibuster highlights

In the end, Rand Paul’s Patriot Act filibuster failed to crack his previous record, clocking in at roughly 10.5 hours.