Information Warfare: When Video Backfires


May 22, 2014: Palestinians thought they had scored another media triumph when they recently released a video of an Israeli soldier, guarding an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, being harassed by several young Palestinian men. The soldier eventually puts a magazine of ammo into his rifle and points it at the most threatening of the Palestinians and tells him to back off or else. Nothing happens and the Palestinian men retreat. The video was meant to show the brutality of Israeli security measures against Palestinians but, much to the consternation and disappointment of the Palestinians many (including a lot of Israelis) saw it as further evidence that the Palestinians do not want peace and only want to cause trouble.

The reaction on the Internet was surprising to Israeli military leaders. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers left comments on sites where the video appeared and pointed out that it is the Palestinians who are the aggressors and that Israeli soldiers operate under a growing list of rules about what they can (very little) and cannot do in response to Palestinian threats and violence. Equally disturbing was the fact that soldiers were often breaking rules by discussing these matters on the Internet. But it was also obvious that there was a lot of anger and frustration among the soldiers who are reservists and regularly called up to spend a month or so providing security in the West Bank.

Those for and against the Israeli presence in the West Bank used the incident to support their views, but the soldiers were mostly frustrated at being caught in the middle of a dispute that the Palestinians and Arabs have refused to settle for decades and blame everyone but themselves for their predicament.



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