Israel Defense Forces Twitter: Did You Miss the 1967 War? Never Fear — the IDF Will Re-Tweet It For You


Last week, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invited Twitter users to "relive history" and follow along as a special @IDF1967 Twitter account "live-tweeted" the 1967 war.

June 5 marked the 46th anniversary of the start of the 1967 war, which lasted just six days. In those six days, Israel defeated troops from Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, and expanded its territorial control to include the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

This is not the first time that the IDF has made headlines for its social media use. During the Israeli conflict with Gaza last November, the IDF posted constant updates on the military’s activities on Facebook and Twitter.

One update about military operations included a picture of a Hamas military leader with the words "eliminated" across his face to reflect the fact that the IDF had killed him in a strike earlier that day. 

The IDF was not the only party to the Gaza conflict to document its military operations on Twitter. Hamas’ military wing also posted English-language updates on its strikes.

These days, the IDF continues to use its Twitter as a vehicle to highlight its accomplishments and promote a positive narrative about the IDF. 

On June 6, the IDF tweeted about Bedouin Arab participation in the Israeli military. Bedouins are not required to participate in the army but those who do often serve in elite tracker units.

The IDF also regularly tweets about the goods traveling into Gaza through IDF-facilitated crossings, in an attempt to provide an alternative media narrative about the Gaza blockade. 

In many respects, the IDF is no different from any other organization that seeks to promote its brand on Twitter. Like many organizations, the IDF uses social media to disseminate timely information about its activities outside of traditional press channels. However, the IDF has taken a particularly innovative approach for a military.

Captain Eytan Buchman of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit attributes this public-relations innovation to the age of the soldiers: "Most of the innovation that comes from inside the IDF happens because we're a very young army. We're a very young military because of universal draft, most people come in when they're 18."

Buchman explained that during the Gaza conflict, some of the goals of the IDF social media team were to "increase our legitimacy, to be transparent, and almost as importantly, to combat misinformation that's being flooded out from inside Gaza."

The IDF's social media usage appears to primarily target the international community as opposed to Israelis. The IDF maintains an extensive English-language news website and its Hebrew-language Twitter (@idfonline) has only 7,300 followers in comparison to the 216,000 followers of its English-language TWITTER (@IDFSpokesperson). 

Not all of the IDF’s social media usage has been so carefully controlled. As PolicyMic pundit Medha Chandorkar wrote, the IDF has also been plagued by scandals as a result of social media usage by its soldiers.

Soldiers have been known to post sexually suggestive photos of themselves in their capacity as IDF soldiers. Recently, four female soldiers posted several pictures (link NSFW) of themselves dressed partially in IDF uniforms or posing with their guns.

In a less salacious but more politically damaging incident, a soldier shared an image of herself smiling for the camera in front of blindfolded Palestinian prisoners.

Microblogging the 1967 war poses less of a political risk for the IDF for a number of reasons, including the fact that it has been primarily conducted in Hebrew. Followers of @IDF1967 will likely be patriotic Israeli history nerds, not those interested in participating in a debate over the policies and actions of the IDF.