McDonald's faces heat for offering free meals to Israeli troops amid Gaza offensive
Fast-food chain McDonald's has been facing a boycott call after its Israeli franchise announced on Instagram that it was giving thousands of free meals to hospitals and troops of the Israel Defence Forces.
Earlier this week, McDonald’s Israel’s social media account announced that it had shipped 4,000 meals so far to Israeli soldiers amid a war with Palestine-based Hamas militants. It had also announced a 50% discount for Israeli soldiers on other food items.
“Update that already yesterday we donated 4,000 meals to hospitals and military units, we intend to donate thousands of meals every day to soldiers in the field and in drafting areas, and this is beyond a discount to soldiers coming to restaurants,” McDonald's Israel wrote on social media, according to Newsweek. “We opened 5 restaurants that were open only for this purpose.”
Several people on social media site X (formerly Twitter), protested the move undertaken by the American chain. Notably, the Instagram and X pages of McDonald's Israel have now been deactivated.
In Pakistan, the hashtag #BoycottMcDonalds started trending on Friday over the announcement made by McDonald's Israel.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's politician posted on X account asking whether Pakistanis will still opt for eating from McDonald’s.
Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba Pakistan, a students’ rights network in Pakistan, also reacted to the development. It wrote: “In solidarity with the Palestinian cause, let’s consider where we spend our support. Say no to companies like McDonald’s providing free meals to the apartheid Israeli military”, it said.
In Lebanon, pro-Palestinian groups attacked a McDonald's outlet in Sidon over the announcement for the Israeli army, local media reports said.
In a statement, McDonald's Lebanon then said that it does not validate the position taken by franchises in other countries.
"McDonald's Lebanon affirms that the position of other franchisees in other countries and territories does not represent the views or positions of McDonald's Lebanon in any way and McDonald's Lebanon is not involved whatsoever in the actions taken in other markets outside of Lebanon. We are committed to our nation and its people with the utmost respect and solidarity," it wrote.
Similarly, the McDonald's franchises in Oman, UAE, Turkey and Kuwait also issued statements in support of Gaza.
McDonald's Oman said that it stands with Gaz, and added that the company has donated $1,00,000 towards the relief efforts for people in the country.
“McDonald's Oman (Al Daud Restaurants LLC) affirms our humanitarian sympathy for our brothers and sisters in Gaza, and we do not compromise on our commitment to the highest of principles and values that thrives in our community,” it said. "From this ground of sound values and principles, we are pleased to announce that McDonald's Oman has donated $100,000 towards the relief efforts for the people of Gaza, in coordination with the concerned official authorities."
It added that it stands with Gaza in these difficult times and sought community support. “We ask God Almighty to protect our beloved country and all Arab and Muslim countries from all the evil and hate,” it said.
McDonald's UAE took to social media and added that they were "deeply saddened by the events in the region" and they are donating 1 million AED to the Emirates Red Crescent.
McDonald's Turkey announced a "humanitarian aid" of $1 million "to the people of Gaza, calling them victims of war.
Kuwait's McDonald's said they reject any and all claims questioning their Arab or Kuwaiti identity.
"What the McDonald's operator did in Israel was an example of such individual action; it was not a global decision, nor was it approved by any of the other local operators, especially those in our region," they said.
It said they are donating $250,000 to the Kuwait Red Crescent Society to help with relief efforts in Gaza.
Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas for the October 7 attack in which its fighters killed 1,300 Israelis, mainly civilians, and kidnapped over 100 people.
Since then, Israel has been carrying out retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza. At least 2,329 Gazans, including more than 600 children, have been killed in waves of the missile attack by Tel Aviv.