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Video The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) took to Twitter to declare war on Hamas shortly after they launched a series of airstrikes against the Palestinian group's leadership.

In days of yore, the commencement of military action was decided by diplomats and announced over the radio or in solemn TV statements. In this social-media world in which we now live, the IDF released a tweet about the attacks well before any official press conference, calling the attack Operation Pillar of Defense, and saying it was targeting terrorists responsible for the many rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

"The IDF has begun a widespread campaign on terror sites & operatives in the #Gaza Strip, chief among them #Hamas & Islamic Jihad targets," the IDF tweeted.

"All options are on the table," they tweeted further. "If necessary, the IDF is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza."

The IDF also used Twitter to post a video of a targeted assassination of Hamas' military head Ahmed al-Jabari by missile strike, which was confirmed to be genuine by Hamas. Online reports are also coming in of explosions near the home of Hamas leader Mahmood al-Zahar.

Twitter is now teeming with reports of more air strikes and casualties, and IDF has tweeted that the Israeli navy has joined in the action.

Hamas spokesman Abu Zuhri used a more traditional route to make his side's statement, telling a BBC reporter that "Israel will regret the moment they even thought of doing this."

While this may be the first time that a state has formally taken to Twitter to announce military action, it's not the first time the social-media site has been an early warning system.

Last year, a Pakistani IT administrator named Sohaib Athar became an unwitting world celebrity when he accidentally tweeted about the US raid on Osama Bin Laden as it happened.

The world is now waiting to see what the response from the Arab nations will be to the attack. If this trend for social media continues then the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's Instagram account might be one site to watch. ®

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