The son of senior Hamas militant Mazen Fuqaha sits on the shoulders of Hamas Gaza Chief Yahya Al-Sinwar as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) gestures during a memorial service for Fuqaha, in Gaza City March 27, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Clicking on to the Foreign Ministry’s Arabic Facebook page may be dangerous to your health, both mental and physical, Hamas warned Gazans last week.
According to Yonatan Gonen, who heads the ministry’s Arabic public diplomacy department, Hamas’s internal security apparatus issued a warning last week against “liking” the ministry’s Arabic Facebook page. This warning came as part of a series of security precautions issued for Gaza residents, directing them to be wary of the “new ways” Israel is trying to “bring down the residents” and enlist agents.
According to Gonen, Hamas warned that liking the Facebook page puts the Internet user within the sights of the “occupier.”
The ministry has operated a Facebook page in Arabic since 2011, which currently has nearly 1.4 million followers throughout the Arab world, from Iraq to Algeria, and which has had 166 million page views in 2017.
The Hamas warning was not the first warning by Arab leaders not to visit Israeli sites, with the Foreign Ministry saying that there are frequent calls in the Arab world not to go to its Facebook page, or to the Arabic pages of the Prime Minister’s Office, the IDF, or the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit. Among the reasons given not to go on these sites are that they are tools to recruit “collaborators,” they poison the minds of the youth, and are a “normalization trap.”
According to the Foreign Ministry, a few months ago the followers of influential Iraqi Shi’a leader Muqtada al-Sadr asked him to issue a ruling against the “satanic” Israeli Facebook pages.
“The repeated calls we hear each week to refrain from surfing our pages just underlines the power of getting messages across on social media,” Gonen said. “Obviously we are not trying to recruit any agents, rather only brand and represent Israel as it really is.”
The aim of the page in Arabic is to give readers a look at aspects of Israeli life that they will probably not get otherwise, including items about culture, song, sport and language, he said.
“The goal is to present the truth about Israel, to brand it differently and fight the negative stereotypes that it is a land of only wars and extremists,” he said. “We want to show the real Israel, the better Israel.”
Gonen said that social media is today “the central tool of the state to speak with people in the Arab world, especially in countries with which there are not diplomatic relations.”