ISREAL - PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

The Israeli Army shows off its target skills on YouTube

Israel's war against Hamas is being drawn out on the internet as well as on the ground. The Israeli Army has just launched a YouTube channel to house videos of its aerial attacks - which happen to be perfectly targeted. A shocking measure?

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Israel's war against Hamas is being drawn out on the internet as well as on the ground. The Israeli Army has just launched a YouTube channel to house videos of its aerial attacks - which happen to be perfectly targeted.

The "IDF Spokesperson's Unit" channel is the Israeli Army's official YouTube page, planned to "help bring our message to the world". Launched on Monday, each video has already received tens of thousands of hits in just two days. A day after its launch, some of the videos posted were removed - due to YouTube's flagging system - nonetheless provoking outrage from supporters of the site. While some bloggers are describing the concept as "a propaganda campaign, pure and simple", others have called it a "a brilliant strategy (...) to counter the typically anti-Israeli sentiment prevalent throughout the international media". And then there are those who feel the PR idea will "fall flat" because you can't see anything on the videos. What is sure is that the channel has provoked an immense reaction from the blogosphere and new media audiences - something that the IDF Foreign Press Branch head Maj. Avital Leibovich recently called "another war zone" itself...

 

The air force strikes what the IDF claims are rockets being transported by Hamas. Posted 29 Dec. 08.

Israeli Navy attack. Posted 29 Dec. 08.

"Pictures and videos coming in from Gaza do more damage to Israel than a thousand qassam rockets"

Roi Ben-Yehuda is an Israeli writer based in New York.

The IDF understands that in today's voyeuristic and interconnected world there is no such thing as a private war. The truth of the matter is that pictures and videos coming in from Gaza do more damage to Israel than a thousand Qassam rockets. So the IDF has chosen to counter the ruinous images from Gaza, with a show of their own. They want us to see that they target terrorist and their infra-structure, not civilians. Be that as it may, it seems to me that these clips will not have the intended effect. The clean distance, loud silence, black and white picture, the unassuming targets, the ghost-like characters - everything is dehumanized. It is like an old video game."

"Their line of propaganda is to go into detail, to distract people from the big picture"

Eyad El Sarraj is a psychiatrist and peace activist from Gaza City.

I'm sure the planes are very successful in targeting what they want to - police stations, universities etc, but in the process it would be very difficult to avoid all the people in the surrounding areas. If you're two streets away... Well, people and children are killed. The Israelis' line of propaganda is to go into detail, to distract people from the big picture. Of course Israel has a very successful propaganda campaign. We're fighting a superpower. We're not able to compete with this."

"The IDF is not doing anything misleading"

Shmuel Rosner is an Israeli journalist based in Tel Aviv. He writes "Rosner's Domain", a blog.

This is a legitimate way for the IDF to make its claims public and show the world what they are doing. I really don't see any controversial aspects in it. The IDF is not doing anything misleading as long as people treat the source with caution - they have to look at these videos like they look at the citizen journalist photos that come out of Gaza. It's yet another source of information and therefore a good decision on the part of the IDF. They probably realised that using YouTube is a good way to reach many people; especially those who don't tend to have access to newspapers or cable television. I personally would assume that the videos are not staged or fake, because the IDF Spokesperson's Unit know that if they publish inaccurate material they would be discredited. In most incidents people who trust the IDF and Israel will trust the videos, and people who don't will be suspicious. But there may also be some who are convinced by these videos."