A new video game in which players "liberate Palestine" and kill Israeli soldiers, has sparked fierce backlash within the gaming and pro-Israel communities which are calling for it to be taken down from platforms.
The game, titled: Fursan al-Aqsa: Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, follows the story of Ahmad al-Falastini, a recently released prisoner who was "unjustly tortured and jailed" by the IDF for five years as he joins the Fursan al-Aqsa to get revenge. The game is set to release on Steam in December of this year, with the description reading: "You will play in missions across Palestine with many objectives to accomplish, epic battles, powerful guns, vehicles to drive, and more."
The game was developed by Nidal Nijm, a Brazilian of Palestinian descent whose father was a member of the Palestinian Fatah forces that immigrated to Brazil following the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war. He explained, "My father is a former Fatah fighter. He immigrated to Brazil after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. I have no connection to any political or military party, group, or organization, I just lived with my father, his whole history of struggle and the resistance of the Palestinian people. And it was my father who encouraged me to get into video games since I was a little boy, and he told me to study and learn so that one day I could produce a video game about the Palestinian Resistance."
For Nijm, the game is about changing the perspective, saying, "Since I was little, I've always seen that here in the West, in movies and video games, Arabs were portrayed as terrorists, so I always wanted to change that image. And as I've always liked games since I was little, I decided to create this game of mine to show that Arabs are not terrorists, but they fight for the freedom of their people."
A disclaimer on the website for the game reads, "The plot of this game is a fictional history inspired by real facts. Even the political and military groups depicted on the game are fictional." With Nijm saying, "In this game, the player does not shoot Israeli civilians, women, children, elderly – only soldiers."
Nijm claimed that the game is not anti-Semitic or discriminatory, but the political standpoint of the game is very clear. Multiple times throughout the game Palestinian-colored fists appear as well as proclamations of "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free." Upon dying in game, the death screen features a Palestinian flag with a bloodied gun, knife, and hand lying upon it with the words: "YOU BECAME A MARTYR. Rejoice, O mother of the martyr, rejoice! Prepare your son for his marriage (in paradise). Tie the band on all your pain and spread his wedding handkerchief. Spread your anger against the oppressor, his injustice must be stopped," on the bottom of the screen.
Despite Nijm’s claims that the goal of the game is to not portray Palestinians "freedom fighters" as terrorists, multiple instances of terrorist actions are seen throughout the game, including a scene from the trailer which shows the main character charging at Israeli soldiers wearing a baby on his back.
The Brazilian Justice Department approved the game for release, giving it an 18+ rating.