Back in the old days, wars began with formal declarations, usually after the first shots had been fired. For the past few decades, however our modern wars have started not with official documents, but with CNN footage and after-the-fact press conferences.
But in November of this year, the Israel Defense Forces kicked off an operation in Gaza by announcing on Twitter, “We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.”
(MORE: The Year’s 10 Best Gadgets)
An hour later, the IDF tweeted a video of an airstrike that killed Ahmad Jabari, the commander of Hamas’s military wing, under the message, “In case you missed it.”
Social media gave people around the world a ringside seat, but it also allowed the IDF and Hamas to talk to each other in real time, taunting and goading each other as the two sides exchanged rocket fire and airstrikes. “It’s very primal and primitive,” TIME editor at large Bobby Ghosh told CNN. “This is how man fought battles hundreds of years ago. You looked your enemy in the eye and you yelled curses and insults at each other while you tried to killed each other. This post-modern technology of social media is bringing us back to that place.”
Next Justice for the Gulf