A thinly-veiled threat to unleash the full military power of Israel on residents of the Gaza strip is apparently meant for Arabs only, since its English-language version is now gone from an Israeli military Twitter account.
Amid the latest flare-up of hostilities between Israel and Hamas militants both sides are also battling for hearts and minds online. Part of the Israeli messaging effort was a threat on Twitter, on the account of Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a defense ministry unit that enacts policies related to civilian issues in occupied Palestinian territories.
The threat said Hamas crossed the red line with its latest attacks and that Israel will be responding with an iron fist. “Residents of Gaza look carefully at the pictures from Operation Protective Edge in 2014 – a picture is worth a thousand words,” said the account, citing a statement by COGAT chief, Major General Kamil Abu Rukon. A composition picture showing the aftermath of airstrikes from the 2014 war in Gaza and a recent retaliation by the IDF was supplied.
But hours later the entire thread was deleted – even though the original statement on the Arabic version of COGAT’s Twitter feed remained intact. Some commenters suggested that the Israeli officials realized that such thinly-veiled threats to Palestinian civilians are not meant for the English-speaking audiences and erased it. Others suggested Twitter could have deleted it following complaints about threats of violence by other users.
It’s removed now. I don’t think it;s because they deleted it though. I think it’s because people removed the tweets as threats to to physical harm…
— Winchester (@winchesterlyon) November 12, 2018
The 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza claimed almost 1,500 civilian lives, according to a UN count, and caused damage to buildings estimated at some $7.8 billion, with thousands of homes obliterated or severely damaged.
Considering that Gaza Strip is one of the world’s most densely populated areas and Israel maintains a blockade of the area, effectively trapping people inside, many critics see the military campaign as a form of collective punishment of Palestinians. Israel says Hamas is responsible for the civilian suffering, because it allegedly uses civilians as human shields.