Israel has demanded that Google and Apple remove a new game called “Liyla and the Shadows of War,” which portrays Israeli soldiers as murderers and invites users to put themselves in the shoes of a Palestinian girl in Gaza during Israel’s war against Hamas in the summer of 2014.
By: Ruthie Blum/The Algemeiner
Israel’s minister of public security, strategic affairs and information — who has been leading the government’s battle against incitement on social media — demanded that Google Play and Apple App Store immediately remove an app with “false and aggressive” content, which could endanger IDF soldiers by encouraging players to kill them, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Sunday.
According to the report, Gilad Erdan was complaining about “Liyla and the Shadows of War,” which invites users to put themselves in the shoes of a Palestinian girl in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war against Hamas in the summer of 2014.
The description of the free app, developed by Gaza resident Rasheed Abueideh, is as follows:
When you live in a war zone and death is hunting everyone, things will look different and choices become harder. Face your fate in an unjust war to survive with your family from the shadows of war.
Time is running against you, your family is in danger and there is nowhere to hide or to do but to get them out of home through a hero journey to a safer place.
Shooting and bombing everywhere and it will hunt you unless you make fast decisions as you progress through different events. These events are real and they will make you choose the hard way. Live or die!
Since its release in May, the game — which portrays Israeli soldiers as murderers — has been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Though the Apple App Store makes no mention of Gaza or Operation Protective Edge, Abueideh states on the game’s site that it is “based on actual events; it tells a story of a little girl liv[ing] in Gaza during the war in 2014.”
According to Walla, when the game was first released, Apple told its Palestinian developer that the app would be disqualified as a “game,” due to its political content, and proposed that it be placed in the “news” category. Abueideh’s response was to lead a social media protest, which caused Apple to relent, omitting all references to the Gaza war.
Still, Abueideh declares on his site:
It’s not just a game. It’s a case and call for help. I’m a father of two kids, I can’t imagine my life without them, but in Palestine nobody is safe. When the war started in Gaza and I saw the images of the killed kids in their parents’ hands I was shocked; I had a weird feeling; it’s a combination of sadness, fear, empathy and anger, All what I [sic] was thinking of is, “What if this happened to me?” I have chosen to share those feelings in a game to deliver a message of how we are living as Palestinians under this situation.
Walla reported that out of 21,284 ratings it has received in the Google Store, 18,649 gave it five stars. Only 1,428 gave it a low score.
The game’s site boasts of winning the Reboot Develop Indie Award in “Visual Excellence” – and nominations for Indie prizes “Best in Show & Most Innovative Game” and “Best Game Narrative.”
According to Walla, Erdan has yet to receive a response from Google or Apple.
Erdan met with visiting Facebook executives last month to discuss how to prevent and combat Israel-bashing and Jew-hatred on its pages. But attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder of Shurat HaDin-The Israel Law Center — which has filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Facebook for its alleged enabling of incitement to terrorism on its pages — called the meeting “nothing more than the usual public-relations stunt.”