Google pulls more Gaza-Israel games from Android store

Iron Dome Gamytech's Iron Dome challenged players to repel "rocket fire from Gaza"

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Google has expanded its list of banned Android video games linked to the Gaza-Israel conflict.

The US-based firm has now removed Rocket Pride by Best Arabic Games, in which players attempt to outmanoeuvre Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system, from its Google Play app store.

It also deleted Iron Dome by Gamytech, which challenged players to "intercept the rockets launched by Hamas".

Other titles that do not name the "enemy" remain online.

Advocacy groups have criticised the emergence of the genre.

"It is both deplorable and dangerous to glorify Israelis killing Arabs or Arabs killing Israelis," Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told the BBC.

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, added: "Games that glorify violence or normalise conflict when referring to an actual conflict that is happening as we speak are deeply problematic and deeply distasteful.

"Google, Facebook or any other company that hosts such games, should be reviewing their policies and making absolutely all efforts to ensure that such games are not hosted on their platforms."

Rocket Pride Rocket Pride tasked players with "supporting heroes besieged in the Gaza Strip from an oppressive occupier"

Amnesty International UK has also declared that such titles are "in highly questionable taste".

Drone bombs

The Daily Dot was one of the first news sites to bring attention to the phenomenon, on Monday, when it named several Android games relating to the conflict.

Bomb Gaza Bomb Gaza was removed from Google Play and Facebook following criticism

Google later blocked three titles as part of its initial response to user complaints:

Iron Dome - Missile Defense Apple allowed Iron Dome - Missile Defense on the iOS store
  • Bomb Gaza, in which the player attempts to kill militants but avoid civilian casualties, while listening to "Israel's theme music"
  • Gaza Assault: Code Red, in which the player controls an Israeli drone that drops bombs on people and buildings from above
  • Whack the Hamas, in which the gamer is told to target members of Hamas as they emerge from tunnels and is described by its developer as "for fun and relaxation, for the people who are being killed every day by a terrorist group"

A playable Bomb Gaza app was also subsequently removed from Facebook - the BBC understands that the social network decided to take it offline.

The site, however, still has a page promoting the game, which describes it as "very addictive and fun" to play.

Iron Dome games

Google Play and Apple's iOS store continue to host another title: Iron Dome - Missile Defense, by Shy Rosenzweig, co-founder of Meetey.com.

Released on July 21, it tasks the player with defending "your city against endless enemy's missiles and rockets".

Mr Rosenzweig told the BBC he deliberately avoided naming the enemy as being Hamas or fighters from Gaza.

"I wish not to see apps that support hate in any way," he said.

Gaza Defender Gaza Defender, which does not name the "enemy", remains on the Google Play store

"I believe that many apps have been removed simply because people reported them, mostly because the app name or description related directly to the conflict.

"I anticipated this scenario and made sure to publish my game within the acceptable boundaries of Apple and Google."

The Android store also offers other recently uploaded Iron Dome-themed titles in which the adversaries are described as "terrorists".

It also contains Gaza Hero - a game in which the player taps Israeli army characters to turn them into food and medicine, which states "curse Israel" on its introduction screen - as well as Gaza Defender, which involves firing at aircraft above.

A spokeswoman for Google would not discuss specific apps, but said: "We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies."

Whack the Hamas Whack the Hamas had been criticised by Google Play reviewers before it was deleted

The firm's developer's terms and conditions ban apps that advocate "against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin", and/or are judged to threaten other users.

Device owners wishing to alert Google to an app they believe breaks its rules can do so by tapping a "flag as inappropriate" link.

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