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The 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict refers to the ongoing violent military conflict between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Palestinian militants, including the Hamas, following a series of escalations in the disputed territories of the Gaza Strip in July 2014.
Operation Brother’s Keeper
The violent clash between the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and Hamas-affiliated militant groups began with the IDF’s launch of Operation Brother’s Keeper, a massive search mission for the three Israeli teenagers who were abducted by pro-Palestinian militants on the night of June 12th, 2014. During the 11-day mission, at least ten Palestinians were killed and 500 members of Hamas associates were taken into the IDF custody, including nearly all of Hamas’ West Bank leaders. On June 30th, the operation came to an end with the discovery of the bodies of the missing teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Natfali Frankel and Gil-ad Shaar; the autopsy results suggested that they were all executed shortly after their abduction.
During the first week of July 2014, a number of retaliatory abductions and assaults targeting the civilian population were reported from both sides, including the kidnapping, torturing and killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestine teenager, and the brutal assault of Tariq Abu Khdeir, a 15-year-old American citizen, by Israeli security forces. On July 6th, the video of the alleged assault was leaked to the news media, further fueling the thirst for revenge from the Palestinians. On the following day, Hamas responded to the series of airstrikes by launching at least 140 rockets into various civilian regions across Israel within the next 24 hours, though about 30 of them were reportedly intercepted by the IDF’s rocket defense system Iron Dome.
Operation Protective Edge
On July 7th, the Israeli Defense Force declared the launch of Operation Protective Edge with a mission to disable the underground tunnel network that had been built by Hamas for covert operations near the disputed border. The launch of the operation was simultaneously announced via the IDF’s official Twitter account (shown below). On the following day, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said “all Israelis have no become legitimate targets for the resistance.”
On July 8th, 2014, BBC Trending reported that both #GazaUnderAttack and #IsraelUnderFire had been tweeted hundreds of thousands of times in the past week and that many of the accompanying images date as far back as 2009 and that many were “from conflicts in Syria and Iraq.” According to Topsy, since the beginning of the military operation in late June, #GazaUnderAttack has been mentioned in nearly four million tweets, in contrast to just over 219,000 for #IsraelUnderFire.
Social Media Propaganda
In addition to the hashtag war on Twitter, both sides have also circulated propaganda video clips blaming each others of civilian casualties and causing destruction (shown below).
While both the Israeli government and Hamas have shown active presence in the social media by publishing pictures and posters with propaganda messages on major media sharing platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, several accounts with ties to the Hamas organization were removed from Twitter and Facebook per violation of terms of services, as it is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.
On July 14th, the Israeli government agreed to a cease-fire proposed by Egypt, temporarily ending hostilities. The cease-fire was subsequently rejected by Hamas who claimed they were never consulted and rejected “it’s current form.” On July 17th, Al Jazeera reported that a temporary cease-fire had been agreed to allows UN humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip, noting that “at least 226” Palestinians had been killed in the past nine days of bombardment. However, a few hours after Israel announced it would accept the ceasefire, the prime minister rescinded the order due to the continued rocket fire from Gaza.
Jews And Arabs Refuse To Be Enemies
On July 10th, 2014, the Facebook page “Jews And Arabs Refuse To Be Enemies” was created by Israeli college students as an anti-war campaign with an aim to promote peace and solidarity among the peoples of Israel and Arab nations.
Applauding Israelis Photograph
On July 9th, RT Middle East correspondent Allan Sorenson tweeted a photograph of Israelis sitting on a hilltop to view attacks on Gaza and “clapping when blasts are heard” (shown below). In the next two weeks, the post was gathered over 12,200 retweets and 1,900 favorites.
Ayman Mohyeldin’s Coverage
On July 16th, NBC News correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin posted a series of gruesome details from Gaza after witnessing the deaths of four Palestinian boys, all of whom are from the same family, by the IDF shelling on the beach where they were playing football. As Mohyeldin’s report began circulating the news, the veteran journalist was reportedly relieved by the NBC News executives from his deployment in Gaza, though he was reassigned to Gaza two days later amidst the public’s backlash against the decision back in the United States.
Removal of Gaza Bombing Games
Between July 16th and 22nd, at least two mobile game apps simulating airstrikes against Palestinians were released for Android on Google’s Play Store, Bomb Gaza and Gaza Assault: Code Red. By early August, the social media backlash against the availability of the games had been picked up by several news outlets, ultimately prompting Google to remove the titles from the store on August 4th.