BEIRUT: The Israeli military scattered lollipops and matchboxes with anti-Hamas messages attached in the West Bank.
Residents of Ramallah and Nablus were surprised Sunday to see large amounts of lollipops thrown all around their streets.
Attached to every candy was a small paper with an anti-Hamas message in Arabic:
“Ramadan Kareem. Here are some sweets because Hamas is making life bitter in the West Bank.”
An IDF officer told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that he knew nothing about the issue, but residents of the towns reportedly saw Israeli soldiers spreading the lollipops.
This was the IDF’s second propaganda drive within the week. Media reports had stated that matchboxes were spread around the West Bank Thursday, with a similar anti-Hamas pun penned.
“Warning, Hamas is setting the West Bank on fire,” was written on the boxes in Arabic.
The propaganda campaign comes in the wake of a massive Israeli deployment in the West Bank in response to the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers two weeks ago.
Blaming Hamas for the abduction, the Israeli government has been raiding numerous homes, charity organizations and other institutions, allegedly in search for the three missing teens.
Palestinian and Israeli figures have accused the Israeli authorities of pursuing an implicit agenda against Hamas, using the kidnappings as an excuse.
The Israeli operations have so far killed seven Palestinian civilians and wounded around 140. Approximately 1,400 military raids were reported since the beginning of these operations, in which around 600 Palestinians have been detained.
The use of off-color humor is a deviation from previous psychological warfare campaigns by the IDF in Palestine. In the 2008 war against Gaza, Israel merely used formal leaflets to attempt to drive a wedge between Palestinian citizens and Hamas.
More creative yet still lacking in humor, were the leaflets dropped over Lebanon during the 2006 war that depicted a caricature of Hezbollah’s leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah hiding behind a cedar tree.
Implying that Hezbollah was using the Lebanese people as a shield to survive, the leaflets served a similar role to the lollipops campaign, attempting to turn the local population against Israel's enemies.
Israel’s propaganda operations were carried after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had expressed frustration over the creation of a coalition government between Hamas and Fatah last month.
The coalition reconciled the two parties that had been in conflict for years, strengthening both President Mahmoud Abbas’s local representativeness, and Hamas’s legitimacy on the international level. Hamas had enjoyed sovereignty in Gaza since its victory over Abbas’s forces in the strip in 2007.
Making benefit of the discrepancy in ideology and the power struggle between the two parties, the lollipops and matchboxes campaign is thought to be an Israeli attempt to re-instigate tensions among its enemy’s population.