Pizza Hut is facing a boycott from Palestinian activists for posting an advert on social media mocking the leader of a three-week-old hunger strike taking place in Israeli prisons.
The fast food chain has said it has "terminated" its relationship with the agency responsible for an advert, which has been revealed to The Drum as Grass Pink.
Earlier this week Israel’s prison service released a video which they claimed showed the leader of the hunger strike Marwan Barghouti eating a candy bar in his cell. Palestinian supporters of the hunger strike, as well as Barghouti's wife, have dismissed the video clips as a fabrication.
But in a move that it has admitted was "inappropriate", Pizza Hut saw the release of the video footage as an opportunity to market their product by superimposing a pizza box and pizza slice into the image of Barghouti in his cell.
The post by the fast food chain’s Israeli branch was accompanied with a message in Hebrew that read: "Barghouti, if you're going to break a strike, why not pizza?"
— Maha Hussaini (@MahaGaza) May 9, 2017
The hunger strike was declared by nearly 1,500 Palestinian inmates on 17 April, to protest “unfair” and “degrading” conditions in Israeli jails.
The post has sparked Palestinians across social media to call for a mass boycott of the fast food chain, with some supporters of the boycott sharing a picture of the Pizza Hut logo modified to look like a prison.
— Reem AlBedaiwi (@rkalbedaiwi) May 10, 2017
Pizza hut mocking Palestinian hunger strikers is the most despicable thing I've seen for ages,never again will I buy from them
— AKA. MT POKKITS. (@still_les) May 10, 2017
Pizza Hut Israel later removed the post from its Facebook page and released an apology on its international Facebook page, which read: “Pizza Hut International apologises for any offence caused by a recent post on Pizza Hut Israel’s Facebook page.
"It was completely inappropriate and does not reflect the values of our brand. The local franchise in the country removed it immediately and the relationship with the agency that posted it was terminated, and we truly regret any hurt this may have caused.”
A post on Pizza Hut Israel's page read: “It was intended to be a humorous post marketing Pizza Hut Israel’s delivery services and was removed after a request from the management of the international chain."