Israel and Hamas – Oct. 27
With the Israel-Hamas war intensifying, concerns over the humanitarian impact have risen with more countries in Asia stepping up to voice support and aid. Countries continue to grapple with the attacks on their people still in Gaza.
Even though tech companies have escalated efforts to resolve misinformation, they are now facing a backlash and accusations of pro-Palestinian censorship. Other companies are concerned about how the conflict will impact ad revenues for the next quarter and beyond.
- As the humanitarian crisis escalates, countries in Asia are continuing to scale efforts to provide aid and support though the UN and NGOs are struggling to ensure aid reaches Gaza. Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that Egypt had given him its commitment to help Malaysia distribute humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. Indonesia’s Vice President Ma’ruf Amin has said that aid has already been directed towards Palestine but was not freely entering Gaza. Speaking at the UN Security Council (UNSC), India’s Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR) to the UN, Ambassador R Ravindra, has reiterated India’s efforts to send humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza and called for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine issue. Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa is considering visiting Israel to discuss stability in the region, which is crucial for Japan which is highly dependent on crude oil imports. Additionally, Japan has contributed US$ 7 million to UNRWA in support of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) affected by the war in Gaza.
- An ex-Pentagon official, speaking at Mount Fuji Dialogue in Tokyo, cited China had not condemned Hamas for the surprise attack, thus creating friction with Israel. This is seen as China observing how the US responds to the crisis and weighing its posture in the Indo-Pacific. Separately, Israel says “Taiwan is a good friend” for its condemnation of Hamas’s attack – Taiwan and Israel have no diplomatic ties but are seen as important democratic partners. Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim joined 16,000 pro-Palestinian supporters to condemn “barbaric” acts in the Gaza Strip and show support for Palestine.
- Asian countries continue to grapple with the safety of their people caught in the conflict zone. A hospital set up by Indonesians in the Gaza Strip has become one of the latest to run out of power and the aid workers there, scramble for fuel. Thailand believes it has 17 nationals among the 200 captives held by Hamas.
- Tech companies are ramping up efforts to control misinformation, but some face backlash as efforts are also being viewed as censorship. Malaysia’s Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil has expressed fury and urged strict action over TikTok removing content from Malaysia. The content removed includes information from the Prime Minister’s speech and several pictures from Gaza.
- The messaging app Telegram has restricted access to channels belonging to Hamas, limiting the group’s online influence. Meta has said it has blocked pro-Palestinian accounts after signs of security compromise. The disruption to these accounts has sparked anger among followers and in posts on Twitter/X. Some followers have interpreted the page’s removals as an example of anti-Palestinian censorship. Google’s AI, Bard, also appears to be censoring any answers related to the current crisis as it is not responding to user queries or prompts about it.
- Overall, more than 150 global corporations have released statements condemning the initial attack by Hamas, but Asian companies continue to grapple with how to respond to the conflict. Moreover, advocates say those statements fall short of offering sympathy for the Palestinian civilians and lack clarity over which side the companies are on, thereby leading to employees expressing sides and support. For example, an Israel-based McDonald’s franchise announced free food for members of the Israeli military, but this prompted a consumer backlash and messages from other franchises in the Middle East distancing themselves from the move.
- Uncertain impact on ad revenues raises concerns. Snap has said some advertising campaigns on Snapchat were paused in October in the wake of the latest Israel-Hamas conflict. Even Meta has said ad spending would likely be more conservative in the fourth quarter. However, some key spaces like e-commerce and gaming still have strong advertising demand.
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