In the immediate aftermath of the October 7 terror attack, McDonald's Israel announced that they would provide thousands of free meals to IDF soldiers and hospitals. McDonald's Israel owner Omri Padan pledged a daily donation of 4,000 meals to security forces, healthcare workers and residents of the affected region.
The initiative comes at a cost of NIS 5 million and five branches were converted to operate the plan. In addition, they offered a 50% discount to security and rescue personnel dining at any of the 220 McDonald's locations across Israel.
Public reactions in Arab countries have been mixed. McDonald's Israel's involvement stirred anger and protest in various countries. Branches of McDonald's in Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt faced vandalism, and demonstrations of support for Gaza took place outside McDonald's restaurants across the Muslim world, from Cairo to Malaysia.
Local McDonald's franchisees in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon were quick to distance themselves, asserting that they have no affiliation with the Israeli branch, with some even donating to Gaza residents. They were joined by franchisees from other pro-Palestinian regions, primarily in the Gulf, who declared humanitarian donations for Gaza.
The company that operates McDonald's in Kuwait said in a statement, "What the Israeli franchisee did was a private and personal act, without the approval or guidance of the international company or any other franchisee, especially in the Arab world."
McDonald's franchisees in various countries have independent discretion in deciding on charitable donations. Padan has consistently donated to security forces during wartime from his own pocket as a franchisee, and his contributions are not tied to the global McDonald's network, which cannot decide on behalf of individual franchisees regarding donations.
In recent days, a previously debunked claim falsely alleging that McDonald's Israel donates to Palestinians resurfaced. In response to this misinformation, McDonald's Israel is cautioning that those disseminating false claims about them could face legal consequences.
Numerous cease-and-desist letters have already been sent, signed by legal representatives, to those who propagated fake news, and the chain is pursuing compensation claims totaling NIS 2.5 million ($625,000) against several major purveyors of fake news.