Hamas Warns Gazans Not to “Like” Israel’s Arabic Facebook Page

Hamas’s internal security agency has warned Gazans not to “like” Israel’s Foreign Ministry’s Arabic Facebook page lest they fall into the sights of the “occupier,” The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

The head of the ministry’s Arabic diplomacy department, Yonatan Gonen, told the Post that warning against the Facebook page was one of a series of warnings issued by the security agency about “new ways” Israel was seeking to “bring down” Gaza’s residents and recruit agents.

The ministry’s Arabic Facebook, which was created in 2011, now has nearly 1.4 million followers across the Arab world and has had 166 million page views this year so far.

According to the foreign ministry, the call by Hamas to avoid its Arabic Facebook page is not uncommon. Frequently in the Arab world, there are calls for citizens not to visit the Israeli government’s Arabic pages, including those of the Prime Minister, the IDF and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Among the reasons people are told to avoid the pages are because they are for recruiting “collaborators,” that they corrupt young people, and that they are a “normalization trap.”

According to Gonen, the goal of the Arabic Facebook page is to show Arabs the real Israel.

“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 told the Post. “Obviously we are not trying to recruit any agents, rather only brand and represent Israel as it really is.”

According to Gonen, though many of the Arabs who visit the foreign ministry’s Facebook page don’t like Israel, as is evident by many of the hostile comments left on the page, nonetheless they “like our page.” The Foreign Ministry staff often tries to open a dialogue with those leaving messages.

While Israel is frequently in the news and often portrayed negatively in the Arab world, Gonen said that nonetheless, “They want to know what is really happening here.”

Last year, Israel’s digital diplomacy was ranked in the top ten worldwide.

Another one of Israel’s efforts is a “virtual embassy” on Twitter in the Gulf region, which was created in 2013.

[Photo: eyad tanna / YouTube]