Swiping beyond borders: Why Egyptians encounter Israeli matches on dating apps?

Ahmed Morsy , Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

“Israeli women on Tinder ... in Cairo?” Ahmed Saad, a 29-year-old Egyptian dater, recounted his disbelief, expressing his surprise at encountering a surge of Israeli women's profiles in his dating feed, all showing locations a few kilometres away within Cairo.

Dating Apps
Tinder is the most widely used dating app among Egyptian youth, closely followed by Bumble as of April 2024, as per Similarweb. AFP


“Since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza, I've been bombarded on Tinder with profiles of Israeli women! At first, it was just one or two, but then it kept happening – dozens of them, all just around the corner in Cairo.”

“It wasn't just the proximity that weirded me out, though; it was their sheer number on the dating feed,” Saad told Ahram Online.

When Saad mentioned it to his friends, thinking maybe the app glitches for him alone, “it turned out that they were also swiping through a sea of Israeli profiles, too”.

Another Cairo dater, Mostafa, confirmed the bizarre phenomenon wasn't just plaguing Tinder. “Bumble's dating feed got it too!” he exclaimed. "That's what convinced me it wasn't a Tinder glitch.”

The latest data from Similarweb, a web analytics platform, indicates that Tinder is the most widely used dating app among Egyptian youth, closely followed by Bumble as of April 2024. This ranking is consistent in Israel as well.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) reported in August 2023 that the number of Egyptian youth in the age group of 18-29 years old is 21.3 million, representing 21 percent of the total population (51.5 percent males, 48.5 percent females).

Driven by curiosity and a touch of intrigue, Mostafa added a Palestinian flag to his dating profile in support of the Palestinian cause and started to swipe right on Israeli profiles, hoping to understand the reason behind their presence in Cairo's online dating scene.

“Unfortunately,” Mostafa told Ahram Online, “not a single match materialised.”

Jumping to Conclusions

Perplexed by this unexpected trend, Egyptian youth have started drawing conclusions and speculating about the situation. Some suggested that Israelis might be seeking refuge in Egypt to escape the ongoing war in Gaza.

Amidst this enigma, multitudes of conspiracy theories have surfaced, with others turning to Reddit, a social news aggregation and discussion website, to seek explanations for the phenomenon.

One user suggested that it is “PSYOP [Psychological Operations]”, which are noncombative operations conducted by soldiers who are communication experts, aiming at persuading allies and enemies in the nation's best interest.

Another one suggested it might be a "thirst trap by the Israeli Defense Forces," a term, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, referring to a photograph of someone on social media that is intended to attract attention or make people who see it sexually interested in them.

Similarly, a third opinion speculated that these Israeli daters could be “ Israeli army bots,” a notion possibly influenced by a nearly year-old report by AP covering the 2021 Israeli 11-day war on Gaza that ended thanks to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal.

The AP story, which relied on a Haaretz daily report published on 22 March 2023, stated that the Israeli army deployed “keyboard warriors” to a second front. The Haaretz was the first to expose Israeli social media operations, reporting that the Israeli army employed fake accounts to conceal the military campaign’s origin.

In a similar vein, another user cautioned against Israelis appearing in the dating feeds, saying, “It's a trap. Please don't bite!”

Mystery Revealed

Recent developments have unveiled intriguing insights into the mystery, shedding new light on the matter.

On 5 April, Israeli Haaretz daily reported the Israeli army has been carrying out GPS jamming since October in the region to try to thwart drone attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah. It added at the time that the Israeli army would intensify and extend the jamming to Tel Aviv and Al-Quds (Jerusalem) areas amid Iran threats.



As per the Israeli newspaper, Israel is applying it as a tactic in electronic warfare to counter drone attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Times of Israel reported that while GPS disruptions were previously widespread in northern Israel and areas near Gaza, they have now become common in central Israel, far from active war zones, following the country's preparation for a potential Iranian retaliation to a strike in Syria.

Indeed, in April, Israel’s Armed Forces Spokesman Daniel Hagari confirmed the jamming of GPS signals, which is intended to defend against GPS-reliant weapons like missiles or drones, according to AFP.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli residents have recently experienced difficulties accessing popular location-based apps like Waze and Google Maps. Their devices have displayed locations in Beirut and Cairo rather than their actual locations.

Moreover, it said that businesses reliant on deliveries have announced that the GPS disruptions will lead to delays in arrival times.

Moreover, the GPSJAM, a GPS monitoring website, showed extensive disruptions and interference in location signals throughout Israel.

The Times of Israel reported that Israelis have been advised by the Israeli army to manually input their location on the app that alerts them to incoming rocket attacks, ensuring its accuracy despite GPS interference.

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