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INSIDE TRACK: Social media exposes brutality of invasion

'Were any other country on Earth doing what is being done in Gaza, there would be worldwide uproar."

'Were any other country on Earth doing what is being done in Gaza, there would be worldwide uproar."

So tweeted Channel 4 television journalist Jon Snow earlier this week. How right he is. Something is happening in Gaza that has never happened before.

I'm not talking about the wholesale slaughter of Palestinians. That has always been par for the course there. What I'm referring to is the way many of Israel's actions - war crimes in many instances by any legal definition - are being witnessed and documented in an unprecedented way.

Those of us who have covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the years have often been frustrated by the obstacles faced in revealing the full extent of Israeli heavy-handedness and disregard for human rights. And before I go any further can I say that, yes, Hamas and other Palestinian groups are far from squeaky clean when it comes to their own targeting of Israeli civilians.

But the simple fact remains that, whenever hostilities between the two have flared in the past, the all-pervasive Zionist lobby and allied Israeli political PR machine go into overdrive.

Time and again, they have recited the "victim" mantra, drowning out the rightful indignation of those who see Israel's brutality for what it is.

The times though are a-changing. The Israeli Defence Force pounding Gaza and its traumatised inhabitants holds all the cards when it comes to technological military might.

But what they no longer possess is their perennial, much-trumpeted claim to moral superiority.

Not only has this been forfeited by bombs and shells that crush homes and schools and by snipers who target ordinary Palestinians trying to rescue the wounded, but also by images brought into our lives through social media. I cannot recall such a deluge of instantaneous evidence of Israel's policy of collective punishment. Daily via Twitter and Facebook we are seeing for ourselves the scale and ruthlessness meted out in the name of "neutralising Hamas".

These acts are recorded not just by professional reporters, but also by ambulance workers, human rights activists, relatives of victims and other ordinary people.

As professional journalists, this has impacted on the way we go about our jobs. It is evident that correspondents, clearly moved by what they are witnessing, feel fewer personal constraints in telling it as it really is without editorial sanitisation. What we are presented with are immediate, emotive pen portraits of the pain Gazans and Palestinians have borne for decades.

The last time Israel invaded Gaza, there were 26 million people on Twitter. Today there are 250 million. No longer can anyone say they do not know what is happening to the Palestinians. There for the world to see is Israel's response, disproportionately harsh as it has always been.

Israel can no more win the war in Gaza than Hamas can lose it. But faced with the stark, uncensored power of social media reporting, Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds that it has so long taken for granted.

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