Now Trending: war in Gaza

Militants in the Gaza Strip continue to pound southern Israel with rocket fire, and Israel's leader vows to "take whatever action is necessary" to defend its people. The battle is being documented online as both sides use social media to detail operations, post video, and threaten one another.

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  1. This could mark the first time that official news of a war operation has been divulged on Twitter before any other media. Early Wednesday morning, Avital Leibovich, Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) international press spokesperson took to Twitter to make an announcement.

  2. Israel chose Twitter to make the first official announcement of the air strike it says killed a leading Hamas official in Gaza, and the IDF’s Twitter account continued to post updates of the operation, even threats to Hamas.

  3. What happened next stunned many. Hamas' military wing Alqassam Brigades used an official Twitter account of its own to respond to the IDF message. 
  4. The online exchange continued. IDF declared it had killed the head of Hamas’ military Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari. Once again, the Alqassam Brigades responded on Twitter.

  5. As observers began tuning into the literal Twitter war, the approach of taking the battle to social media garnered a number of different responses. 
  6. Many criticised the method as a way to facilitate propaganda, spin the facts, or selectively report the truth.
  7. Still, both IDF and Hamas continue to use the forum to publicize attacks, document fatalities, post photos and videos. IDF is even using Flickr and a live blog to detail its operations. 
  8. YouTube has since deleted some of the videos allegedly documenting this attack. There were also reports the official @IDFSpokesperson account was suspended for 40 minutes Thursday morning because it violated Twitter’s rule on posting “direct, specific threats of violence against others.”

  9. Live tweeting an ongoing mission is something that hasn’t really been done before. In addition to engaging each other, the IDF and Hamas tweets are sparking huge reaction from others online.

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