The Israel Defense Forces has opened a YouTube channel broadcasting footage taken over the last five days in its air offensive on the Gaza Strip.
The channel was launched as part of the army's PR campaign to draw international support for its military operation on Hamas' infrastructure in Gaza.
YouTube briefly yanked the clips on Tuesday, saying it was inappropriate, only to restore it a few hours later, labeling it inappropriate for minors, the military said.
"We were saddened on December 30, 2008 when YouTube took down some of our exclusive footage," the military wrote on its YouTube channel page. Fortunately, due to blogger and viewer support, YouTube has returned the footage they removed.
YouTube did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment. In the past, YouTube, which is owned by Google Inc., has been pressed to take down videos depicting violence. The site has no automatic review process.
One of the aerial surveillance videos shows a group ofmilitants loading rockets onto a truck before being targeted by an Israeli missile.
"The blogosphere and the new media are basically a war zone in a battle for world opinion," said IDF spokeswoman Major Avital Leibovich said. She added that the YouTube channel is an important part of Israel's attempt to explain its actions abroad.
"In modern-day warfare, some battles are conducted through the media," said Gideon Doron, former chairman of the government agency that oversaw the privatization of television and radio services in Israel.
"Many of the victories of modern warfare are mediated by the media," Doron said. "We have Internet and all kinds of modern communication, and the Israeli military apparently decided that it has to broadcast its message through these tools."
The military says its clips have attracted more than 230,000 hits since going online Monday.
Gaza officials say some 390 Palestinians have been killed in the offensive, sparked by rocket fire at Israeli towns. Israel estimates that some 220 of those were members of Hamas.
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