Palestinians and activists stormed social media calling for a global boycott of food chain Pizza Hut after its Israeli branch ran a provocative advertisement that mocked Palestinian prisoners who have been on a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons since 17 April.
The Pizza Hut posted a picture released by Israeli police, which is claimed to be a fake one by the protesters, allegedly showing struggle leader Marwan Barhgouti breaking his fast by eating a chocolate bar. The food chain Photoshopped a pizza box onto the floor of the prison cell along with a slice of pizza in the sink, with a caption reading “Barghouti, if you are going to break your (hunger) strike, is not pizza the better choice?”
As may as 1500 Palestinian prisoners launched a massive hunger strike on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, for a series of demands, including an end to the denial of family visits, proper health care and medical treatment, access to higher education and an end to the use of solitary confinement and administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial.
Angered by the mockery of the struggle of Palestinian political prisoners, Palestinians and rights activists used the social media hashtags #Boycott_PizzaHut in both Arabic and English to call for a boycott of the global chain.
However, the ad was quickly removed from Pizza Hut’s Israel Facebook page and the company apologized on Facebook for “any offence caused by a recent post on Pizza Hut Israel’s Facebook page.”
“Pizza Hut International apologises for any offence caused by a recent post on Pizza Hut Israel’s Facebook page. It was completely inappropriate and does not reflect the values of our brand. The local franchisee in the country removed it immediately and the relationship with the agency that posted it was terminated, and we truly regret any hurt this may have caused,” the food chain said.
In a bid to destroy the massive hunger strike, the Israeli prison authorities on 7 May which had released a footage allegedly shows an imprisoned leader of Palestinian political faction Fatah, Marwan Barghouti, who is leading the hunger strike, snacking secretly in the bathroom of his cell.
However, the footage was later turned out to be fake one as the Palestinian National Committee for Freedom and the Dignity Strike, a group which endorses the current hunger strike, denounced the allegations and said that the footage dated back to at least 2004. In a statement, the committee added that Israel is “waging a serious war of lies and misleading information to create a state of confusion in the Palestinian public and among hunger striking prisoners.”