Israel's Army Used Social Media Psyop to Influence Domestic Population During Gaza Conflict

(MENAFN) A recent investigation by Haaretz has revealed that Israel's army illegally targeted the country's population with a social media psychological operation during the 2021 military operation in Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson’s Unit used fake Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok accounts to post videos and images of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza using the hashtag #GazaRegrets. The unit even worked with popular Israeli influencers to conceal the military origin of the campaign.

The social media operation was launched as the IDF became concerned that Israelis were more impressed by viral footage of Hamas rockets hitting Israel than the actions of their own military. However, the IDF has dismissed the astroturf campaign as a brief, anomalous "error," insisting that the bots were operational for just 24 hours, with no similar episodes in the last two years.

The IDF's use of psychological warfare to sway popular opinion in foreign countries is well-known, but it is legally prohibited from targeting the domestic population with such tactics. The army's military intelligence division was even forbidden from deploying its tools domestically during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite some in the government wanting to use them for contact tracing.

IDF Spokesperson’s Unit chief, Hidai Zilberman, has denied that the division engages in psychological warfare and insists that its role is "to report nothing but the truth to the public." However, he was caught spreading deliberately fake news through the foreign press during the 2021 Gaza operation.

The revelation of the IDF's social media psyop raises questions about the military's adherence to ethical standards and the government's respect for citizens' rights to accurate information. It also highlights the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, and the use of propaganda by both sides to influence public opinion.



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