Israel launches ad blitz attacking UNRWA on X

Ringo Chiu/ShutterStock Anas-Mohammed/ShutterStock (Licensed)

As evidence over UN ties to Oct. 7 attack questioned, Israel launches digital ad blitz attacking UN

Palestinians receive 'VIP refugee treatment,' one post claims.

 

Katherine Huggins

Tech

Posted on Feb 8, 2024

The State of Israel’s official X account has paid to promote multiple posts criticizing the United Nations agency supporting Palestinians.

“If you’re looking for a VIP refugee treatment, look no further than” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, reads one X ad viewed by the Daily Dot.

“There are 36 million refugees in the world, but only 6 million Palestinians have inherited a ‘special’ refugee status, thanks to UNRWA,” the post continued.

The ad—a promoted Feb. 5 post from Israel’s account—includes an animated video noting that all other refugees fall under UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, instead of a dedicated agency.

“Back in the 40s, who wasn’t a refugee? Almost everyone, including many Jews,” the video narrator says. “Guess who’s still officially on the list? Palestinians. Seems only Palestinians inherit this exclusive, VIP refugee status. UNRWA, established in 1949, was supposed to fix this. Yet, one rule for Palestinian refugees, another for the rest. Smells fishy, huh?”

The Israeli government has criticized UNRWA for years prior to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, alleging that the agency’s schools promote antisemitic beliefs and glorify terrorism.

In January, Israeli intelligence determined that 12 UNRWA employees were directly involved in Hamas’ attack, prompting the U.N. to launch an independent review of the organization’s neutrality.

According to a statement from U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, of the 12 people implicated, nine were immediately identified and fired, one was confirmed dead, and the identity of the other two were being clarified as of late January. However, UNRWA later said two—not one—of the accused employees were dead.

Multiple countries have suspended funding to UNRWA in the wake of the findings, including its top two donors, the U.S. and Germany.

A six-page Israeli dossier detailed further ties between UNRWA employees and Hamas or Islamic Jihad, alleging connections involving 190 employees. According to Reuters, the document listed 11 employees by name.

The dossier says that Israeli intelligence established six of the accused men were inside Israel on Oct. 7 based on their phones, while others were monitored making phone calls from Gaza discussing their involvement in the attack, three others received texts ordering them to report to muster points on Oct. 7, and one was told to bring grenades stored at his home, the New York Times reported.

Guterres and others at the U.N. have stood by the decision to terminate the accused UNRWA employees it has, stating that the intelligence was investigated and deemed credible.

“Those allegations were credible,” Guterres told reporters Thursday, adding, “if I made any mistake, it can be corrected in the future.”

“We couldn’t run the risk not to act immediately, as the accusations were related to criminal activities that are really dangerous,” he said.

However, multiple news outlets have questioned the dossier’s assertions about Hamas’ grip on UNRWA. U.K.’s Channel 4 claimed the dossier contains “no evidence” to establish ties between Hamas and UNRWA employees, as did the Financial Times and others.

The U.N. has not obtained a copy of the dossier, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said last week.

Israel’s advertising targeting UNRWA comes at a key moment for the agency, with its leadership warning it may shut down operations in late February if donor countries do not reverse their funding suspensions.

While the post blasting Palestinians’ “VIP refugee treatment,” is the only ad the Daily Dot independently reviewed, other X users have reported seeing promoted posts from Israel’s account similarly criticizing the organization.

One user said it was “disgusting” to see a promoted post stating that UNRWA “is not part of the solution, it’s part of the problem” and cast doubt on the number of UNRWA employees involved in the Oct. 7 attack.

“Enough with the crazy ads. Your propaganda is childish,” responded another user to the promoted post in question.

A separate user responded to a post showing a Hamas terrorist hiding behind a shield with UNRWA’s logo, saying: “This being a paid ad says a lot about its purpose as propaganda.”

Though the recent ads center on UNRWA, Israel has used advertising on X, YouTube, and elsewhere since its war against Hamas began.

Days after the Oct. 7 attack, Israel ran ads preceding videos targeting children on YouTube. The colorful ads included nursery music, rainbows, and unicorns with overlaying text that states “we know that your child cannot read this” before highlighting Hamas’ attack.

And other people have reported seeing an anti-Hamas ad on Hulu that shows “what Gaza could have been like without Hamas.”

The “Come Visit Gaza” video shows a series of images showcasing thriving nightlife, luxurious hotels, and other tourist attractions before pivoting to show militants and a child in an empty street.

“I am appalled to see this commercial here in America on HULU,” one pro-Palestinian TikTok user said on Jan. 26 of the ad. I called and filed complaint. I requested to have this removed. Wrong message and encourages war.”

@amal79894 I am appalled to see this commerical here in America on HULU. I called and filed complaint. I requested to have this removed. Wrong message and encourages war. Other Israel propaganda! Please flood with calls to HULU 1 888 265 6650! regarding to this commerical. I am not sure if I recorded with volume because I am deaf. Oops. #freepalestine🇵🇸❤️ #gaza #palestine #hulu #medias #commerical #television #wewontbesilenced #israelpropaganda #watermelon #freedom #standwithpalsetine #ceasefirenowgaza #resistance ♬ original sound – Amal

According to the Wall Street Journal, the video was from Israel’s National Public Diplomacy Directorate. The report also stated that YouTube briefly ran the ad but removed it after determining it violated its policy prohibiting ads from displaying shocking content.

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*First Published: Feb 8, 2024, 2:38 pm CST