TikTok trends and thirst traps: How Israel is trying to humanize the IDF

By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: Over the past two weeks, we have seen Israel carry out the worst atrocities in modern times. Despite being the aggressor in three different countries, the apartheid regime has successfully made itself into a victim in the public eye. While the older generation is more knowledgeable about previous attacks, the new generation finds most of their information on social media. And with thirst traps and TikTok trends, Israel has managed to humanize themselves and the IDF, despite their crimes.

If you’re someone who isn’t update with the bloody history of Israel and the IDF, all it would take was one look at their TikTok page to feel all sorts of sympathy. The youngest, good looking men are chosen for a video where they introduce themselves as combat soldiers. These men, are hardly even men, barely 20 years old and you find yourself thinking of how much danger their lives have been thrust into and cannot help but feel for the families of these young soldiers. In another video, you see a young soldier playing the piano in the rubble of his destroyed home. Its a haunting tune and those watching can almost feel the pain of the soldier.


Individually we are strong, together we are a force. Our combat soldiers are a unified front ready to face Hamas terrorism. #idf #soldier #israel Counter Speech

♬ original sound – IDF

But it’s not all doom and gloom in Israel and their IDF base camps. You’ll find a cute video of a young couple getting married on the base, funny videos featuring the Barbie soundtrack and adorable dogs. Videos show their cooking recipes, training exercises and trivia videos. It is as though, Israel wants you to believe that life in the IDF is great, completely glossing over the fact that Israel has forced conscription, with education taking a sideline and the threat of prison time for refusing to join.


Despite the ongoing war, watch this magical moment of a couple getting married on base. #israelunderattack #idf #soldiers #marriage #standwithisrael Counter speech

♬ suono originale – celeste 🦋

The Israel Defense Forces have even weaponized the women in their forces, sexualizing them and allowing thirst traps of the women in uniform to float on social media. So, even if someone supports the other side, they’re more inclined to see the more aesthetic videos of beautiful women dancing provocatively, as opposed to the one with death, and subconsciously they begin to absorb the propaganda and feel sympathy for the young soldiers.

Beyond TikTok, Israel’s Twitter account is also very active. There is a complete dissonance between what they post and their actions. The same account which dehumanized the Palestinian children and justified their deaths by calling them “children of the dark” is also posting about Taylor Swift and acting like a complete fanboy. Although, the stan account persona might have missed the mark it clearly shows that Israel is trying to come down to the level of the youth, especially Gen Z, by speaking their language and embracing their “vibe.”

All of this is in vast contrast to their counterparts: middle aged, bearded men who look like typical bad guys. So, visually, it’s more likely for the Arab men to look like the bad guys as opposed to the model-like youth on the IDF pages.

It’s become clear that Israel and the IDF are master manipulators. However, try as they might, social media is very nuanced. Real time coverage of the genocide is undeniable and has created an awareness that Israel cannot control.

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