Palestinians launch campaign to boycott IDF humanitarian, economic aid

The campaign comes on the heels of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s May 19 decision to renounce all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US, including security cooperation.

A Palestinian woman steps on a replica of an Israeli flag during an event marking Land Day near the Israel-Gaza border as mass rallies planned to commemorate the event were cancelled amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus, east of Gaza City March 30, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
A Palestinian woman steps on a replica of an Israeli flag during an event marking Land Day near the Israel-Gaza border as mass rallies planned to commemorate the event were cancelled amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus, east of Gaza City March 30, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Palestinian activists and journalists have launched an online campaign to boycott the social media accounts of the Ministry of Defense’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
The COGAT unit engages in coordinating civilian issues among Israel, international organizations, diplomats and the Palestinians. Its main mission is to facilitate humanitarian issues and economic and infrastructure projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The campaign comes on the heels of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s May 19 decision to renounce all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US, including security cooperation.
The campaign, titled “You are either with me or with the Munasseq [Arabic for Coordinator],” specifically targets the popular Arabic accounts of the head of COGAT, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun. As part of the campaign, Palestinians are being urged to unlike and stop following the accounts.
The Arabic Facebook page of COGAT has more than 600,000 likes, while its Arabic twitter account has more than 11,000 followers.
COGAT mainly uses the accounts to inform Palestinians about the unit’s various activities, particularly issuing permits for workers, patients and merchants to enter Israel. In the past three months, COGAT also used its social media accounts to provide Palestinians with information about the coronavirus pandemic.
In a recent post in Arabic, Maj. Gen. Abu Rukun announced that “halls will be reopened in the coordination and liaison offices in Judea and Samaria on May 31 to provide services to residents in the field of entry permits and magnetic cards.”
‘It’s disgraceful and treacherous for any honorable and free Palestinian to praise the occupation officer through his accounts,” read one of the campaign posters.
Several Palestinians said they were outraged when they discovered they had mutual friends with the head of COGAT. The campaign, they explained, aims to reduce the number of Palestinians who follow and interact with the COGAT accounts.
“I found out that I have 135 mutual friends with the Coordinator,” said Basman al-Haj on Facebook. “If you want to [be] a friend of the Israeli officer, you can’t be my friend too.”
Palestinian journalist Hajer Harb said she discovered that she has more than 360 mutual friends with the COGAT head. She called on her friends to choose between her and the COGAT head.
Some Palestinian activists called on the PA government to block the COGAT accounts. They claimed that the accounts were being used to obtain information from Palestinians about various issues.
PA Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ishaq Sider called on Palestinians not to deal with accounts “regardless of the security risks they may incur.”
Sider told the Palestinian website Sadanews that blocking sites such as those belonging to COGAT “requires a deep dialogue between all components of the [Palestinian] people,” adding that the PA is currently unable to block websites that use Israeli Internet Service Providers.