As Conflict Rages, Israel Seeks Supporters Online

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Embroiled in a deepening military campaign in Gaza, Israel is using the Internet to relay its side of conflict.

The Israel Defense Forces is posting daily videos from a spokesperson on Google's YouTube video-sharing service, as well as more clips of air strikes on alleged strongholds for Hamas, the militant organization ruling Gaza.

On Dec. 30, Israel held a "citizen's press conference" via Twitter, an online microblogging service.

Questions were answered by David Saranga, a public affairs officer at Israel's consulate in New York, according to one of the country's blog sites.

Saranga answered questions using abbreviations and word fragments in order to keep answers under Twitter's 140-character limit. Later, the Israel Politik blog wrote out Saranga's answers removing the so-called "Twitter talk," spelling out words fully, and concluded the Twitter press conference went "great."

Israel's efforts in using new Web technologies appear to be successful in reaching an audience. Some of the videos posted on YouTube by the Israel Defense Forces have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

The most viewed video there purports to show several Hamas members loading short-range rockets into a truck moments before a massive explosion. The video has been watched more than 360,000 times. The Twitter feed for Israel's New York consulate had 3,714 followers as of Monday.

The Web page for Israel's New York consulate also contains links to pages on MySpace, Facebook and two blogs, although all of those pages and sites appear to have been set up before the latest conflict flared.

Israel's use of the Web to justify its military actions comes as world leaders call for an end to the fighting. On Monday, Israel continued to hit Hamas targets in Gaza for the 10th straight day in retaliation for rocket attacks into Israel.

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