TEL AVIV – For the first time, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) will conduct a live online chat session in Arabic on Tuesday to answer Palestinians’ questions as part of the government’s wider initiative to directly engage the Palestinian public.
COGAT head IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai will hold the live Q&A on COGAT’s Arabic Facebook page with residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
“I want to be in direct communication with you and answer your questions,” Mordechai said in a video earlier this week, urging Palestinians to participate in the Q&A session.
COGAT, part of the Defense Ministry, is the body responsible for coordinating civil and security affairs in the West Bank and Gaza, working in conjunction with Palestinian Authority security forces. In August, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced his intention to invest in fostering direct contacts with Palestinians.
“Our goal is to create a dialogue with anyone who wants to talk to us,” Liberman said, noting that his efforts could be seen as “a track that circumvents [Palestinian President] Mahmoud Abbas.”
The Arabic COGAT Facebook page has more than 76,000 Palestinians and Arabs from elsewhere following it. The page was established eight months ago with the aim of providing reliable information regarding COGAT policies and promoting direct dialogue with Palestinians.
I am addressing you today to talk about the terrorist organization, Hamas, which steals your money in order to promote terrorism. … Millions of dollars — which were intended for initiating projects, providing financial assistance for residents, and even for food packages for the needy — were transferred by Hamas to its military wing to build [terror] bases, to pay bonuses and salaries and to dig the death tunnels that will bring about your destruction and Gaza’s – something that cannot be. Hamas is burying you and your hopes of living like everyone else.
The Hamas-affiliated newspaper Al-Majd al-Amani warned Palestinians that Mordechai is “one of the recruitment officers for a secret Zionist unit” invested in convincing Palestinians to become collaborators with the Jewish state.
It added that Palestinians should be aware that COGAT tricks Palestinians through its efforts to “act in a humanitarian manner to remove psychological barriers and lure someone in need through posts about work permits, business and entering Israel.”