Analysis: Did Israel win the public diplomacy battle?

Owen Alterman & Jeff Abramowitz

i24NEWS Senior International Affairs Correspondent and i24NEWS Senior Producer

4 min read
Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid (L), Defense Minister Benny Gantz visit the Southern Command, Israel, on August 7, 2022.
Elad Malka / Ministry of DefenseIsrael's Prime Minister Yair Lapid (L), Defense Minister Benny Gantz visit the Southern Command, Israel, on August 7, 2022.

The IDF was quick to put out the information bolstering its case, and Israeli spokesmen also did not dawdle

After the ceasefire, came the relief, even the celebrations. 

Not just because the rockets stopped, and those Israelis living near the Gaza Strip no longer had to spend time in or near bomb shelters, and those living further north no longer had to go about their daily business with one ear cocked for the sound of air raid sirens.

This time, it's also because of a feeling that Israel's public diplomacy efforts actually worked.

Videos like the one put out by the Israeli military (IDF), showing a strike against a senior Islamic Jihad commander being called off, because there were children in the area, quickly gained traction. 

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1556417391587893249 ...

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So did another one, showing that Palestinian fatalities in Jebaliya in the north of the Strip, were actually caused by a misfiring Palestinian rocket.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1556157418371006465 ...

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As opposed to previous encounters - the IDF assault on the Maavi Marmara ship in 2010 comes to mind – this time, the IDF was quick to put out the information bolstering its case, and Israeli spokesmen also did not dawdle.  

"Tonight, Islamic Jihad terrorists fired a rocket towards Israel which fell short inside Gaza, hitting a Palestinian home in the Jabalya neighborhood and tragically killing at least four children," Keren Hajioff, International Spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said shortly after the misfire, in a statement that was much quoted.

It wasn't just the announcements. It was the speed at which the IDF and Israel reacted to the events that was perhaps different this time.

Video poster

For many Israelis, the quick response videos were a rare success, after years of frustration at what had been seen – not unfairly - as underperformance in public diplomacy, especially during military conflict.

But did Israeli public diplomacy really win this one?

It’s not that clear-cut. Operation “Breaking Dawn" played out with an international media already distracted, focused much more on fighting in Ukraine or drills near Taiwan than on Israel and Gaza.

And Israel's advocates also did not have to explain pictures showing mass devastation in the Strip, as was the case in 2021, the previous round of fighting between Israel and the Gazan militias. This time, the set of facts was easier to defend. Fewer civilian casualties. Less destruction.

Meaning that the real test for Israeli public diplomacy still lies ahead.

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