Israel and Hamas are fighting a war on a new front. This week, they took to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media to report live on real-world attacks in Gaza... or, depending on who you ask, to spread propaganda. Now, the brains behind @IDFSpokesperson have been revealed.
According to the Associated Press, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich is the woman in charge of the Israeli Defense Forces' brand-new "Interactive Media" branch, a collection of 30 soldiers trained to craft the blog posts, infographics and status updates that comprise Israel's media campaign. The group was reportedly formed just two months ago, but it's apparently already important to the military's operations. In February, Leibovich told the AP, she'll be departing her other job as international spokeswoman to concentrate on this social media initiative.
So what, after all, are the IDFSpokesperson's aims? "The goal is to reach as many audiences as possible, and second, to convey our message, without the touch of an editor," Leibovich told BuzzFeed.
She also seems to believe, though, that a Tweet can have a real-world effect, conveying a "message of deterrance" to Israel's enemies. Remember this tweet?
We recommend that no Hamas operatives, whether low level or senior leaders, show their faces above ground in the days ahead.— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) November 14, 2012
When BuzzFeed asked her whether a message like this was appropriate for Twitter, this was her reply:
"You call this violent language? When rockets are falling on our heads, and I'm referring to 500 rockets in the last 72 hours, if you can even imagine the extent. Then when you have certain time that you want to convey a message of deterrence to an audience, then that's a good tool to do it."
Leibovich, a mother of three, also said that it helped to have 18-year-old conscripts in her division because they understand social networks. "The creative side of the language almost comes natural," she said.