The War Will Be Gamified: Israel, Hamas in Social Media Struggle

As rockets fly over Gaza, Israel Defense Forces and the militant wing of Hamas are waging a digital war over social media as well.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Ronen Zvulun / Reuters

Smoke trails are seen as an Iron Dome intercepts a rocket which was launched from Gaza, near the southern town of Sderot ,Nov. 15, 2012.

In addition to waging an unprecedented war of words with Hamas on Twitter over its escalating conflict in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has introduced “game dynamics” on its war blog.

These “gamification” features, normally the province of social networking services like Foursquare and Facebook, allow visitors to the IDF’s blog to rack up “points” for repeat visits or numerous tweets, as the blog tracks the progress of Israel’s escalating conflict with al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas. Jon Mitchell, a writer for the tech blog Readwrite who first noticed the IDF’s gamification features, noted that while they have been live since July, “promoting it on the front page during this military campaign is beyond crass.”

“Innocent people are dying on all sides, and the IDF wants to reward people for tweeting about it,” Mitchell added. “It makes me sick.”

(PHOTOS: A New Gaza War: Israel and Palestinian Militants Trade Fire)

The IDF’s gamification initiative is the latest front in a rapidly expanding social media battle between Israel and Hamas. For the last two days, Gaza has been pummeled by an IDF military operation which began in earnest after Israel targeted Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari, whose death in a rocket attack on his car Nov. 14 was filmed by an Israeli aircraft and posted to the IDF website. Israel itself has been the target of rocket attacks from Hamas and other groups in the Gaza Strip, with deaths and injuries on its side of the border.

“Twitter is being used as a propaganda machine, pure and simple,” says Rafat Ali, founder of the digital media news site PaidContent. “A real time propaganda system is still propaganda, not transparency, as some have been saying.”

Meanwhile both the IDF and al-Qassam have exchanged taunts, threats and warnings over Twitter; TIME has collected a few of their exchanges here:

Meanwhile, the fighting continues; early Friday morning the IDF launched attacks on 150 targets into Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’ latest round of rocket attacks; Palestinian authorities put the death toll at 20.”This is a war of gaining public opinion,” says Ali. “There are no facts in the war, only horrors and deaths.”