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Global fast food chain McDonald's has rejected “inaccurate reports” over its position on the Gaza crisis, after one of its franchises in Israel claimed to have offered thousands of free meals to Israeli soldiers.
McDonald's Corporation on Thursday shared a statement on the social media pages of several of its operators in the Middle East – including in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait – affirming that it was “not funding or supporting any governments in this conflict”.
It said the actions of “local development licensees” were made without its “consent or approval”.
The response comes after the Israeli operator of the international restaurant last month said it had donated tens of thousands of meals to the military, as well as police, hospitals and residents.
A large number of McDonald's outlets outside the US are run by local operators, known as franchisees, who act as independent businesses.
“We are dismayed by the disinformation and inaccurate reports regarding our position in response to the conflict in the Middle East,” McDonald's Corporation said on Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter.
“McDonald's Corporation is not funding or supporting any governments involved in this conflict, and any actions from our local development licensee business partners were made independently without McDonald's consent or approval.
“Our hearts are with all of the communities and families impacted by this crisis. We abhor violence of any kind and firmly stand against hate speech, and we will always proudly open our doors to everyone.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our people in the region while supporting the communities where we operate.”
The statement posted on the Instagram page of McDonald's in the UAE has garnered more than 1,300 responses.
Many replying to the post said they were boycotting McDonald's due to the recent controversy.
The Kuwaiti operator of McDonald's – Al Maousherji Catering Company – posted its own statement on its McDonald's-branded social media channels.
“We at Al Maousherji Catering Company … reaffirm that we stand firmly with Palestine and our brothers and sisters in Gaza.
“We do not accept any questioning of our Arab identity and we, once again, affirm that we respect and uphold the values of our nation and our community.”
It said it had donated funds to the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society and national air bridge relief efforts.
Humanitarian crisis worsens
More than 9,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war broke out on October, with an estimated 1.4 million displaced.
The UAE has joined other Arab nations in calling for an immediate ceasefire to protect innocent lives.
The Emirates has strongly condemned Israeli air strikes on a Gazan refugee camp, in which hundreds of people were killed or wounded.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “indiscriminate attacks” would lead to “irreparable damage” for the region, following the deadly assault on Jabalia refugee camp in the northern part of the enclave on Tuesday evening.