Israeli army causes outrage by ‘live-tweeting war crimes’

A Palestinian protester holds a national flag as another protester throws a stone towards Israeli forces during a demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 22, 2018. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The decision of the Israeli military’s official Twitter account to tweet about its military operations was met with a backlash.

The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is at the centre of a social media storm after tweeting about its military operations.

“We have just started striking terror sites in Gaza. Details to follow,” the account tweeted.

This follows the IDF saying its aircraft had struck dozens of Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip overnight in response to rockets from the Palestinian enclave, including rare fire toward its economic capital Tel Aviv.

Since Thursday night, around 10 rockets were fired from Gaza.

The escalation from the Israeli military followed weeks of growing tensions and came at an especially sensitive time ahead of Israel’s April 9 elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is widely believed to want to avoid a fourth war in the Gaza Strip since 2008 ahead of the polls, but the exchange of fire showed that there are risks of this taking place.

Numerous Twitter users accused the IDF of “live tweeting” their “war crimes”.

Responses to the tweet, however, showed that it was not without support.

Israel’s three wars in Gaza have all been met with condemnation from bodies including the United Nations (UN), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The last one, in 2014, known as Operation Protective Edge, which the military claimed was necessary for the country’s protection and a response to rocket fire, earned the country’s government and military criticism for “disproportionate force“, as well as for the war’s “high civilian death toll“.

The war resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Gazans, with the civilian casualty rate placed at 65% by the United Nations and at 36% by Israeli officials.

The UN released a report in 2015 accusing both sides of war crimes.

“The UN estimated that more than 7,000 homes for 10,000 families were razed, together with an additional 89,000 homes damaged, of which roughly 10,000 were severely affected by the bombing. Rebuilding costs were calculated to run from 4-6 [billions of] dollars, over 20 years,” according to Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia lists 67 Israeli soldiers, 5 Israeli civilians (including one child) and one Thai civilian as having been killed.

The UN recently released a report saying the military “may have” been responsible for war crimes following the deaths of 189 Palestinian protesters in Gaza last year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected these findings, saying they “set a new record for UN hypocrisy” and were “based purely on an obsessive hatred of Israel”.

Netanyahu has recently been slammed for joining forces with a far-right party called Jewish Power to form an alliance ahead of elections.

A month ahead of these elections, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party stands in second place in opinion polls, behind the centrist Blue and White alliance, led by former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid.

Netanyahu has also been dogged by corruption allegations and will face a hearing regarding these after this year’s elections.

(Additional reporting by AFP)

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