Google pulls 'Bomb Gaza' game from app store after backlash

SAN FRANCISCO Tue Aug 5, 2014 6:18am IST

A Google search page is reflected in sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

A Google search page is reflected in sunglasses in this photo illustration taken in Brussels May 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A mobile game that simulates Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and invites users to "drop bombs and avoid killing civilians" has been pulled from Google Inc's app store, a company spokesman said on Monday after a public backlash.

"Bomb Gaza," developed by PlayFTW and still available as an app on Facebook, simulates the on-going conflict between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which dominates the Palestinian territory. Players drop bombs from a fighter jet while dodging missiles from Hamas fighters in black and green masks.

"We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies," a spokesman for Google said, confirming that the game had been removed from the Google Play app store. Google did not specify which policy the game had violated.

Google Play has rules that prohibit content that amounts to hate speech, bullying and violence and lets users flag abusive content.

The game triggered outraged comments on the Google app store review page as well as on Facebook. It had been downloaded about 1,000 times since its July 29 launch, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"You disgust me," Saj Ishaq wrote on PlayFTW's public Facebook page.

Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment and PlayFTW could not be immediately reached.

"Please take this off the Play store. It is offensive and I am really let down that Google actually allowed this. If this game isn’t removed I’m starting a Google boycott," Oma Al, a user, wrote on the game's review page, according to the Guardian.

On July 8, Israel launched an offensive on Gaza in response to a surge in Hamas rocket strikes. Gaza officials say more than 1,831 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and about 3,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged since the offensive began.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco; Editing by Paul Simao)

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