Israel and Hamas now locked in Twitter war, also actual war

The IDF’s not messing around on either front. Shortly after they rolled out the video clip below, of Ahmed al-Jabari’s final moments, they posted this retweet-ready bon voyage on Twitter:

They tried to kill him several times before but didn’t succeed until today. This appeared at some point during the course of the day too:

BuzzFeed is compiling the IDF’s tweets about its ongoing operations in Gaza; Twitchy is following responses from the Al-Qassam Brigades. If you follow news about the Middle East, most of what’s happening today is very, very familiar. Hamas attacks Israel with rockets, Israel responds by targeting Hamas leaders and weapons depots (especially long-range rockets that might threaten Tel Aviv) with the possibility of wider operations to come, and everyone in the region condemns Israel for retaliating. You know how this goes. Two major differences this time, though. One: The social-media angle.

Israel also finds itself in a singular position, geopolitically. Its most consistent ally in the region, the Mubarak regime in Cairo, was overthrown last year and replaced by an Islamist government. Relations with Jerusalem’s most important partner, the United States, were tested by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s all-but-open support of Barack Obama’s rival Mitt Romney in the recent American presidential elections. The need to shape international opinion and rally supporters internationally is acute…

After spotting a long-range Fajr-5 rocket in an underground launch site, the IDF quickly uploaded the surveillance footage to YouTube (see above), and tweeted a Google Maps-style picture of the launcher’s location in the town of Zeitoun. After killing Jabari, the IDF posted to its blog something of a rap sheet on the longtime leader of Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, including his alleged role in the kidnapping of young soldier Gilad Shalit.

Assuming that operations do expand, international media will dutifully line up against the IDF. (Again, you know how this goes. There are already early signs.) The Twitter offensive is Israel’s way of trying to outflank the media filter and reach people directly. That’s why they’re rolling out splashy videos and graphics at the beginning of the counterattack, I take it. They want to attract as many new followers as they can as early as they can to maximize the number of people with whom they directly communicate for the duration of this.

The other major difference is the wider political landscape. How do IDF operations in Gaza play in Cairo when Egypt is ruled not by Mubarak but by the Muslim Brotherhood? Not so well, as it turns out:

“President Mohamed Morsi has followed the Israeli brutal assault in which a number of martyrs and sons of the Palestinian people were killed,” [presidential spokesman] Yasser Ali said in a statement on television and on his Facebook website.

“On this basis he has recalled the Egyptian ambassador from Israel; has ordered the Egyptian representative at the United Nations to call for an emergency meeting at the Security Council … and summoned the Israeli ambassador in Egypt in protest over the assault,” the statement added…

Earlier on Wednesday, Morsi’s political advisor, Mohammad Seif el-Dawla said the “Israeli aggression on Gaza” was also a blow against Egypt.

Egyptian intelligence reportedly tried to negotiate a ceasefire between the two sides a few days ago, after Hamas started firing rockets. Whether that was window dressing to disguise the fact that Hamas is coordinating with the Brotherhood on this or a genuine sign that Morsi et al. don’t want Hamas feeling too frisky just because their friends are in charge in Egypt now, who knows. The party leadership of the Brotherhood isn’t hiding its feelings, though:

The chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP party, Saad Elkatatny, said: “The Egyptian people revolted against injustice and will not accept an attack on Gaza. The brutal aggression on Gaza proves that Israel has not yet learned that Egypt has changed.”

A statement from the FJP added: “The Freedom and Justice party stresses its full condemnation of the Israeli assignation operation against al-Qassam leader Ahmed al-Jaabari.” It called for a quick Arab and international reaction.

I think Egypt’s economic situation is too fragile to risk alienating the west by quitting the Camp David accords just yet, but I’m mighty curious to see how soon that ambassador returns to Israel. This is the way I imagined the cold peace would eventually collapse — incrementally, with Egypt exploiting alleged Israeli “provocations” periodically to weaken ties while blaming everything on Tel Aviv. WaPo wonders if Morsi will use this as a pretext to drop the embargo of Gaza; that’s something to watch now going forward. Exit question: What’s The One’s next move?

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