Jerusalem: Palestinians called for a boycott of Pizza Hut after the company’s franchise in Israel was accused of mocking hunger-striking prisoners.
The franchise’s Facebook page was said to have shared an image released by Israeli police which appears to show Palestinian hunger-strike leader Marwan Barghouti secretly breaking his fast.
“Barghouti, if you are going to break your (hunger) strike, isn’t pizza the better choice?” a screenshot of the post said, with a pizza box seemingly photoshopped into the picture.
— Maha Hussaini (@MahaGaza) May 9, 2017
The image was later removed from the Facebook page, though it was still found on the page of at least one local branch.
The post sparked fury on Palestinian social media, including calls to boycott the chain.
“Pizza Hut is ridiculing the prisoners’ strike,” activist Alaa Abu Diab wrote on Facebook, using the hashtag #boycott_pizzahut.
— mysab11🇵🇸† (@PSMAY97) May 8, 2017
Yes I support #boycott_pizzahut , you can not make jokes about hunger strike!! It's not funny!!
— Lamia Abdulrhman (@Lma_30) May 9, 2017
— Clyde Carbon (@clyde_carbon) May 8, 2017
Some Twitter users had a more creative response, redesigned the Pizza Hut logo to reflect their anger.
— Razan Halabi (@Razan_Halabi) May 9, 2017
After widespread condemnation for the post, a spokeswoman for Pizza Hut International apologised for the post.
“It was completely inappropriate and does not reflect the values of our brand,” she told AFP.
“The local franchisee in the country removed it,” she added. “We truly regret any hurt this may have caused.”
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are currently on hunger strike over their conditions.
Pizza Hut has an outlet in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, as well as dozens across the Middle East.
It has many inside Israel, as well as one in the settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank.
Barghouti, a senior member of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah party and a highly popular figure among Palestinians, is serving five life sentences over his role in the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.
Israeli authorities say 894 Palestinian prisoners have kept up the strike, though Palestinian officials say it is more than 1,000.
Some 850,000 Palestinians have been incarcerated since the Israel’s occupation of their territories 50 years ago, Palestinian leaders say.
With AFP inputs