Palestinians are using Pokemon Go to highlight political grievances

Palestinians are using Pokemon Go to comment on life in the West Bank. Photo / @msalimkassam Twitter
Palestinians are using Pokemon Go to comment on life in the West Bank. Photo / @msalimkassam Twitter

The Pokemon Go craze quickly went viral, but the game is now being used to showcase dark political grievances about the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

While the app has not been officially released in Israel, tech-savvy smartphone owners have easily managed to cheat the system and download it, and they've been sharing the fun on social media.

Last week, for example, the Israeli navy shared an image of its forces capturing a Gyrados at sea.

They captioned the post: "There are some Pokemon only we can get to."

Even Israeli president Reuven Rivlin got in on the action, posting a widely-shared photo of his encounter with a wild Meowth in his meeting room.

But on the same stretch of land, a darker trend is emerging.

Palestinians have taken to social media to make political points about life on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Far from bringing both sides together, the game is being used to comment on the tense political climate.

One user tweeted a photo of a Pikachu lying on top of rubble outside a torn down site. Its health status says "Dead".


Another image making the rounds features a rare Charizard out of reach for the user - because it's over a wall that separates Israeli territory from the West Bank.


Facebook user Abd Elrahman Salayma, from Hebron in the West Bank, joked in a status: "There is a pokémon down the street in the settlement... how the hell am i going to catch it?"

When someone advised him to "Keep on running until you catch 'em all", he responded: "I'm afraid to be shot if i ran toward the settlement".

One commentator even said Israel doesn't need the game when it already "hunts Palestinians for fun".


Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports the Israeli Defence Force has issued a warning to soldiers who use the game, telling them not to use it on military bases, as it's a "source for gathering information".

There is a fear in doing this that soldiers may reveal sensitive information about military operations. As such, soldiers are reportedly prohibited from "checking in" at military bases.

- news.com.au

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