Gaza: "Though torn in two, we can be one"

All is quiet on New Year's Day's IT Blogwatch, as Richi Jennings watches bloggers watch the use of the Web and social media in Gaza. Not to mention Han and Luke go shopping...

Robert McMillan gets underway:

UNOSAT Gaza map
The conflict raging in Gaza between Israel and Palestine has spilled over to the Internet. Since Saturday, thousands of Web pages have been defaced by hacking groups.

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The defacements have primarily affected small businesses and vanity Web pages hosted on Israel's .il Internet domain space. One such site, Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel's Galoz Electronics Ltd, whose hacked Web site read "RitualistaS GrouP Hacked your System!!! The world isn't insurance!!! For a better world," on Wednesday. Other attackers have placed more incendiary messages condemning the U.S. and Israel and adding graphic photographs of the violence.

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On Saturday, Israel launched air strikes into Gaza in response to earlier rocket attacks from Hamas and other militant groups. The online attacks began soon after ... Since then ... about 10,000 Web pages have been hacked.
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Kristen Nicole wants to be with you (be with you) night and day:

Israel is going for a more informative tactic with its coverage of the war its fighting against Hamas militants in Gaza, and its using social media as one of its main forms of increasing its transparency ... After receiving a great deal of flack from not doing so during the 2006 attack on Hezbollah strongholds in Southern Lebanon, Israel realized that the Internet too can be a powerful weapon. At least in the realm of PR and global perceptions.

Days after sending aircraft out to strike Hamas militants in Gaza, the Israeli government is launching a curated channel on YouTube and multiple Twitter streams in order to participate better in the blogosphere. Yesterday, followers of “israelconsulate” on Twitter could view live coverage updates of a citizen press conference held in order to further disseminate information regarding Israel’s stance on the war. Another Twitter stream tracks where Qassam rockets are falling in Israel.

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Not all efforts have come from Israel though. A less organized group of individuals have been active on Twitter, reporting from Gaza about the impact on Palestinian residents. There has also been some support from Al Jazeera who has set up their own Twitter account for reporting Twitter activities as well. It’s clear that the PR war is fierce no matter what way you’re trying to spin the story.
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But Alan Abbey says nothing changes:

I wish I could say that Twitter is providing useful, on-the-ground, independent reports of the Israeli military action in Gaza and the Hamas bombing of southern Israel. But all I have found there so far ... is heated rhetoric from non-Gazans and international observers. The Israeli side is more ideological than reportorial at this stage, as well.

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I'm intrigued by the contrast in Twitter/blog coverage between the current Gaza conflict and November's terrorist attacks in Mumbai. During the Mumbai attacks, Twitter and blogs seemed more useful, in the sense of providing up-to-the-minute independent reports of specific details of specific events.
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Nathan Hodge crouches under a blood-red sky:

Among other things, the Israeli military has started its own YouTube channel to distribute footage of precision airstrikes.

And as I type, the Israeli consulate in New York is hosting a press conference on microblogging site Twitter. It's pretty interesting to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reduced to tweets of 140 characters or less ("We hav 2 prtct R ctzens 2, only way fwd through neogtiations, & left Gaza in 05. y Hamas launch missiles not peace?"; "we're not at war with the PAL people. we're at war with a group declared by the EU& US a terrorist org").
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John Mahoney has gathered in black and white:

This is the Israeli Defense Force's official YouTube channel, where they are posting several gun camera videos per day of bombs falling on Gaza. That is, until Google temporarily shut it down.

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Naturally, the comments sections turned into a firestorm of hateful back-and-forths before they were disabled, which was probably a condition for re-upping the censored videos.

It's a propaganda campaign, pure and simple. Even though you can see far worse in the chillingly note-perfect AC-130 stage in ... Call of Duty 4, there are people dying in those buildings, and no, not all of them are terrorists. No war in history has been fought without the warring parties attempting to control the story with info dissemination. But using a forum like YouTube, a public community where smartbombs destroying buildings in a populated city are adjacent to sleeping kittens and 12 year olds' rants on why homework sucks, and where said 12 year olds (literally, and those of 12-year-old intellect) can fill the comment sections with racist hate-spew—is this where we draw the line?.
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Joshua Fouts says, says, say it's true, it's true:

Dozens of people have been gathering since Saturday in Second Life at a protest of the recent attacks in the Gaza Strip ... Those who identified themselves who attended the gathering were mostly in Egypt, but also included people in Morocco, Italy, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, France and the United States.

The gathering is an example of the rich, textured opportunity that 3D immersive spaces like Second Life offer for people to express their concerns about present day issues.
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And Adam Stanhope hopes we can be one:

While war most certainly isn’t “neat,” those following the Israel/Hamas conflict in Gaza at the moment might appreciate the United Nation’s UNOSAT division’s excellent marked and annotated satellite image that illustrates current information about the conflict.

If you find the Gaza image useful, you can sign up for notifications or an RSS feed from the site. They provide similar timely annotated imagery of many natural disasters, conflicts and other newsworthy geographically relevant events throughout the year.
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And gold is the reason for the wars we wage.

    Nothing changes on New Year's Day...

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 23 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

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