The IDF Spokesman's Unit joined the popular YouTube video sharing website this week, opening a channel to let viewers see footage from the “Cast Lead” operation in Gaza. The footage showed humanitarian aid entering Gaza via Israeli crossings and Israeli strikes on Hamas targets.

Supporters of Hamas-led Gaza quickly began reporting the IDF videos in an attempt to get them removed from the website. Some of the most popular videos were taken down, but not before being viewed by thousands.

One of the videos that was removed by the YouTube management showed terrorists loading Grad missiles into a truck near a residential area. The terrorists were then taken out in an IAF strike. The video was picked up by the LiveLeak website.

IDF spokesmen altered the IDF channel homepage to say, "We are saddened that YouTube has taken down some of our exclusive footage showing the IDF's operational success in operation Cast Lead against Hamas extremists in the Gaza Strip. As the State of Israel again faces those who would see it destroyed, it is imperative that we in the IDF show the world the inhumanity directed against us and our efforts to stop it. It is also worth noting that one of the videos removed had the highest number of hits (over 10,000) at the time of its removal."

Consulate plans Virtual Press Conference

While the IDF broadcast videos, officials at the Israeli Consulate in New York City were planning a first-ever virtual press conference. The conference will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard time.

During the conference, Internet users from around the world can send in questions regarding the security situation in Israel and the operation in Gaza.

The New York consulate has joined the social networking site Facebook, and recently joined the social networking and micro-blogging site Twitter, which allows users to send out short messages to everyone on their list via email, SMS, RSS or other applications. “It's important to us to give real answers, in real time... We hope by using 'Twitter' we'll be able to reach communities that we generally can't access,” consulate workers said.

Regarding the virtual press conference, a consulate official said, “At the beginning of the [Cast Lead] operation we received dozens of questions from everyday citizens in addition to questions from the media, so I have no doubt that we're getting into one of the more complicated press conferences.” He expressed hope that answering citizens' questions directly would allow representatives to get their message across clearly.