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The new propaganda: Armies take war to Twitter in Gaza conflict

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As Israeli and Palestinian forces clash in Gaza this week, those same armies are engaging in a real-time battle of hashtags and twitpics, trying to win the hearts and minds of watchers around the globe.

Propaganda used to be about full-color posters and dropping leaflets from airplanes. Now, the Israel Defense Forces and the Hamas military Al Qassam Brigades are taking to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, instantly sharing photos, videos and granular news bites in English, so that they can reach the broadest possible audience.

"What is happening here is that both Israel and Hamas are using social media to communicate over to the other side in the conflict and the broader international community," Charles Ries, former ambassador to Greece and vice president of the international division of the RAND Corporation, told NBC News.

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