Gaza Conflict's Shadow 'Cyberwar'

Hackers aren't necessarily interested in commandeering high-profile government or corporate sites. They just use a program that automatically searches for any site that's in Israel (and to a lesser degree right now, the United States). Any Israeli site successfully hacked, regardless of whom it belongs to, is considered a "win," he said.

The world has seen cyberpropaganda wars before, Warner said. After the collision of a Chinese fighter jet with a U.S. Navy plane in 2001, tens of thousands of U.S. sites were defaced by Chinese hackers blaming the United States for the incident. And, after the Danish publication of cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad in February 2006, Muslim hackers targeted Danish and American Web sites.

But, he said, training academies that teach recruits how to infiltrate Web sites are causing the numbers of Muslim propaganda hackers to significantly increase.

"More and more people are receiving training," he said. In these recent cyberattacks, he estimated that roughly one-third of the groups performing the hacks were previously unknown to him.

Israeli Military Takes to the Web

As Palestinian sympathizers have advanced their use of digital technologies to promote their cause, so too have the Israelis, though in very different ways.

On Monday, the Israeli Defense Forces launched its YouTube channel to post footage that highlights the precision of airstrikes on Gaza. The Israeli Defense Forces' Leibovich told the Jerusalem Post that the YouTube channel is intended to help Israel explain its actions.

Since the channel's launch, it has received 563,019 channel views and 8,544 subscribers.

Soon after the Israeli Defense Forces posted its first videos -- black-and-white aerial footage showing an Israeli Air Force strike on a rocket launcher and color ground footage of trucks bringing World Food Program supplies into Gaza -- YouTube took down some of the videos when they were flagged by other users as inappropriate. YouTube, however, later restored the videos.

Twittering the Conflict

On Tuesday, the Israeli Consulate in New York took an even deeper dive into the social media pool when it held a news conference via the micro-blogging service Twitter.

In an effort to engage younger people on the issue, for two hours, the consulate received and answered questions through Twitter, which allows people to broadcast 140 character messages, called "tweets."

For example, in response to a question about why the consulate had launched a Twitter feed, it responded: "Saw debate on Twitter and saw diff ppl w/unreliable info, Felt a good way to put official voice out there."

When another virtual conference attendee asked whether the steps being taken to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza were sufficient, the consulate replied: "no, the sole purpose of this opt. is 2 protect Isr's s.border & 2 allow ISR 2 live safely. this opt is indiferrent 2 politics."

The feed has attracted more than 3,000 followers since it launched Monday.

David Saranga, the consul for media and public affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York, conceded that a 140-character message does not provide much room to discuss an extremely complicated situation. But he emphasized that the Twitter feed is meant to be an entry point for interested individuals. His office maintains several political and general blogs about Israel that it can refer people to through the Twitter feed.

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