Gisha, an Israeli not-for-profit organization with a goal of protecting the freedom Palestinians to move freely around Gaza and the West Bank, has created an online game designed to call attention to the impact restrictions of movement are having on commerce and families in the area.
SafePassage offers three different scenarios to play: a Gaza businessman looking to sell his wares in the West Bank; a young Gaza woman who wants to study in the West Bank or the married father of a seven-year old who used to live in the West bank, but was moved to Gaza by Israeli authorities and forced to leave his family behind.
As the game unfolds, real documents pop up to illustrate the case against your player. In the case of the married father, upon being removed to Gaza, a document appears which states (PDF) that “Family ties are not considered a humanitarian reason which justifies the unification of families,” which is taken from Article 3 of the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities.
Gisha’s Director Sari Bashi, said about the game in a MediaLine piece:
We chose animation to encourage people to put themselves in the shoes of ordinary Palestinians, to help viewers understand how the restrictions affect people they can identify with. A cartoon character can help people overcome stereotypes and see the humanity in the real people.
Once the game ends, never happily we might add, players are urged to take action in the form of a letter, which expresses "concern over the ongoing violation of the rights of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip." Activists are urged to send the letter to their own elected representative, no matter what country they reside in.
Players are also encouraged to explore read about the real people being affected by the movement restrictions.
The game’s animator, Gilda Baker, described overcoming one challenge, how to make military documents accessible to the public, “Our solution was to integrate them into the personal stories of real people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, to help people understand the policy."
Dr Noam Lemelstrich-Latar, Director of Israel’s Asper Institute for New Media Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, called the game “very clever,” adding, “Israel is really lagging in its online cyber advocacy and I don’t know of a good game that has come out of the Israeli government.”