hostages posters

The billboard was to have the hostages on it with the phrase ‘He/She can’t testify today.’

By Troy O. Fritzhand, The Algemeiner

Several advertising companies in the Netherlands have rejected an Israeli government billboard campaign to raise awareness of hostages held by the Palestinian terror group Hamas in Gaza, according to Israel’s National Public Diplomacy Directorate.

The campaign, spearheaded by the directorate’s Government Advertising Agency, was meant to coincide with the South African government’s case at the International Court of Justice charging Israel with committing genocide in Gaza. The court is located in The Hague, Netherlands.

“The main message conveyed by the signage is the fact that 136 kidnapped Israelis are being held captive by Hamas and cannot testify today at The Hague tribunal,” Moriah Shalom, the head of the Israeli agency, said in a statement. “These are victims and witnesses to the acts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Hamas, and to the war crimes they commit every additional day while they are held hostage by Hamas.”

Hamas launched the current war in Gaza with its Oct. 7 invasion of Israel. The Palestinian terror group rampaged across southern Israeli communities, murdering 1,200 people and kidnapping 240 others as hostages. Over 100 of the hostages were released as part of a temporary ceasefire in late November.

The billboards were to feature the names and pictures of hostages along with the caption “He/She can’t testify today.”

The purpose of the Netherlands campaign was to “[increase] awareness for the release of hostages from Hamas captivity,” the Israeli statement said.

Israel approached 10 billboard operators in the Netherlands, but all of them refused to run the campaign and put up the posters. In one case, a company agreed “but unexpectedly” backed out at the last second.

Shalom described the rejections as a “serious violation of freedom of expression and Israel’s right to speak out loud about the terror its citizens suffer.”

“This is a blatant attempt to silence the voices of the Israeli hostages, who were taken captive during the murderous terrorist attack by Hamas,” she added. “Their right to be heard is beyond any doubt.”

Moshik Aviv, the head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate, echoed that sentiment.

“The attempts at silencing will be answered with a loud voice — even in front of the court in The Hague there are those who choose in an aggressive and outrageous manner to take down an information campaign on hundreds of billboards throughout the Netherlands and with an emphasis on The Hague,” the senior Israeli official said in a statement. “The truth will prevail and the State of Israel will continue to stand up for the justice of its path and tell the whole world the truth. We are running an unprecedented international information campaign. Despite everything, they will not be able to silence us.”

Israel will formally deliver its response to the genocide charges brought by South Africa to the International Court of Justice on Friday. Several Israeli politicians weighed in on Thursday with strong condemnation of the proceedings.

The Government Advertising Agency and National Public Diplomacy Directorate are responsible for boosting Israel’s image abroad via public and social campaigns. They have been instrumental to the many campaigns people have seen outside of Israel depicting the plight of Israel and the hostages since Oct. 7.