While diplomats work feverishly to turn the 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas into a lasting truce, there’s one battlefield where the fighting hasn’t stopped: the mobile phone. The month-long conflict in Gaza spawned smartphone games like ‘Bomb Gaza,’ ‘Whack The Hamas,’ and ‘Gaza Assault: Code Red’ in the Google Play store.
The games got high ratings from users—’Bomb Gaza’ was downloaded 1,000 times in its first week—but attracted strong criticism for making light of real, unfolding human tragedy.
This week, many of them were yanked for violating Google Play’s terms and conditions. (Unlike Apple, Google doesn’t pre-approve games before they are listed.)
But although virtually bombing Gaza strip is no longer an option, the store still has several games that allow users to imagine Israel under missile attack, and use simulations of the “Iron Dome” system to defend it. The makers of ‘Iron Dome Interceptor’ offer this scenario: “Terrorists in a neighboring town are attacking your city, use interceptor rockets, cluster bombs, homing missiles and more to stop them and save your population.” Users who would prefer to pretend they are on the Palestinian side of the conflict have ‘Gaza Defender,’ a game that targets incoming rockets and ‘enemy’ forces.
Unsurprisingly, the comments section of both games bristle with political opinion and criticism of the games themselves.
This isn’t the first time someone’s made a game of the political crisis in the Middle East. ‘Raid Gaza!,’ created in 2008, is still available on a gaming website.
Not all Gaza-related games are violent, though. The makers of ‘Gaza Hero,’ which allows users to turn images of Israeli weapons into virtual food, water and medicine, say they will donate all revenues to the Palestinian enclave.