The situation on the ground in Gaza continues to deteriorate and, following word that the Israeli government was considering a temporary shutdown of internet connectivity inside the Palestinian terriroty, several hackers from Anonymous have apparently decided to get involved.
Yesterday, the Israel Defense Force assassinated Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, an apparent first strike in what would become a continuing operation (known as Operation: Pillar of Defense) against the Palestinian militant group. Unlike previous conflicts between Hamas and the IDF though, this latest round of military action was live-tweeted by IDF international spokesperson Avital Leibovich Israel's military is apparently no longer content to let international media handle coverage of the nation's operations in Palestinian territory. Responding to several questions via email, Leibovich told iDigitalTimes' Ian Kar that the decision to forego traditional media outlets for dissemination of the information was largely the result of perceived hostility towards the embattled nation.
"We have realized that the interactive media is war zone and decided to engage maximum audiences through a variety of platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, a blog and a website," said Leibovich, who also revealed that the nation has produced a number of videos about the situation that will be released in the days and weeks ahead.
After the initial strike on Jabari's car was announced, the IDF released footage of the Hamas leader's final moments on YouTube before making several comments regarding continued operations against those that Israel believes to be terrorists. Hamas has reportedly responded by firing hundreds of rockets across Israel's southern border.
According to RT, one rocket struck an apartment complex in the southern city of Kiryat, killing three people who were unable to reach their building's fortified stairwell in time. Since that time, Israel has reportedly stationed tanks along its border with Gaza, and both sides have reported a number of attacks resulting in casualties. There are also that Israel has cut power to the territory, and could be in the process of cutting off internet access inside the area as well.
As is often the case with situations such as these, particularly when it comes to matters related to the web, the loosely affiliated group of hackers and activists known as Anonymous announced their support for the citizens of Gaza and other Occupied Territories. In a statement, hosted on AnonPaste, those responsible for launching #OpIsrael clearly laid out their reasons for taking up the cause:
"When the government of Israel publicly threatened to sever all Internet and other telecommunications into and out of Gaza they crossed a line in the sand. As the former dictator of Egypt Mubarack (sic) learned the hard way - we are ANONYMOUS and NO ONE shuts down the Internet on our watch. To the IDF and government of Israel we issue you this warning only once. Do NOT shut down the Internet into the 'Occupied Territories', and cease and desist from your terror upon the innocent people of Palestine or you will know the full and unbridled wrath of Anonymous. And like all the other evil governments that have faced our rage, you will NOT survive it unscathed."
Since posting the threat on Wednesday night, Anonymous members have accepted responsibility for defacing several prominent pro-Israel websites. Members also uploaded multiple documents with instructions on how those inside Gaza can remain connected to the outside world in the event of an extended internet and/or telecommunications outage. As of press time, a handful of Anonymous members were reporting just such an outage, after Israel allegedly took down every PBX line in Gaza.
The public relations battle continues on Twitter and other social networks this morning, and has already spawned a number of popular hashtags including #IsraelUnderFire and #GazaUnderAttack. As is typically the case, with all things related to Israel and Palestine, the internet is relatively divided on which side is in the right/wrong.
So, what are your thoughts on the situation? Do you agree that the IDF's actions are nothing more than legitimate attempts at self-defense? Think Anonymous should butt out? Leave your thoughts on Operation: Pillar of Defense and its fallout in the comment section!