The Operation Pillar of Defense that Israel launched in the Gaza Strip today, which included the killing of Hamas military commander Ahmad Jabari, is big news, and could spell a dramatic escalation in the long-simmering violence between the Israeli military and Palestinian militants in Gaza. But as Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal points out on Twitter, there's another remarkable aspect of the offensive: the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has been updating us on the military's actions in close-to-real-time.
Or you could go to the IDF's Twitter feed, where you'll find updates like these:
We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
Ahmed Jabari: Eliminated. twitter.com/IDFSpokesperso…— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
Fast Company is calling this "the first time a military campaign goes public via tweet." That's not entirely true -- in November 2011, for example, the Kenyan military took to Twitter to warn Somali civilians about an impending offensive against al-Shabab (al-Shabab tweeted -- more like taunted -- back).
Still, the IDF's approach to getting the word out about Operation Pillar of Defense does represent a milestone in military communications -- one we should reflect on. What does it mean for us as a society when we can follow a targeted killing in real time, and watch a video of it on YouTube hours later?
Update: The military wing of Hamas appears to be tweeting back at the IDF. Here's the reaction to the Israeli military's warning for Hamas operatives to keep their heads down:
@idfspokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on Yourselves)— Alqassam Brigades (@AlqassamBrigade) November 14, 2012