Israel’s Military Supports Cancer Patients. Just Not the Ones in GazaNovember 12, 2019
On Friday, the Israel Defense Forces’ Twitter account posted a photo of two young women, dressed in green army jumpsuits and holding the long braids they had just chopped off of their own hair. Their new blunt cuts framed bright smiles. A rifle rested on one woman’s lower back. The photo had a caption.
“Noam and Inbal donated their hair to make wigs for cancer patients. What a beautiful act of kindness,” it said.
On its face, the tweet was not unusual for the IDF, which was recently dubbed “the worst influencer in the world” by The Outline. The IDF’s tweets have included memes about veganism and videos about DIY Halloween costumes hosted by soldiers. In posting on such upbeat topics, the account has become somewhat of a twisted joke among those aware of the army’s human rights record. The UN, for example, has accused Israel of enacting “collective punishment” due to the conditions in Gaza. (The IDF did not respond to VICE’s request for comment.)
As a result, the IDF regularly faces criticism for the discrepancy between their charming tweets and the havoc its soldiers wreak on the lives of Palestinians. But the image of Noam and Inbal garnered even more criticism than most of the IDF’s posts, and for a very specific reason: the suffering of cancer patients in Gaza due to the IDF-imposed blockade.
The executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, Sarah Leah Whitson, chimed in. “Hi Noam and Inbal - great that you want to help!” she tweeted. “Can you please ask your bosses at the @IDF to open the #Gaza border so that cancer patients there can get urgently needed medical treatment? They and so many other Palestinians urgently need medical care but are blocked by #Israel.”