Kobbi Shoshani, the Consul General of Israel to India, shared the image of child wrapped in white cloth while using a smartphone, with a caption, "Don't believe Hamas' lies", insinuating that people are faking deaths in Gaza.
This has been a narrative that bad actors spreading disinformation around the Israel-Hamas conflict have been sharing to create a false narrative about "fake casualties" in Gaza. Simultaneously, Israelis on TikTok are creating and posting videos mocking the Palestinian suffering and deaths.
US President Joe Biden fueled these narratives and conspiracy theories when he seemed to question the number of casualties coming from Gaza.
“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war. But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using,” the US president said.
Human rights organisations and investigative reporters were quick in debunking Biden's claims, and the Biden administration later softened their stand after facing pushback from American Muslim bodies, but the damage, sadly, was done.
Social media feeds are filled with old and unrelated videos shared to dismiss the casualties in Gaza, calling the rescue operations staged, creating a falsely amplified sense of support from international lawmakers and so on. At the same time, there are people who are creating AI-generated imagery to evoke emotional responses from people and gain "likes" and "views".
This story will take you through the most viral pieces of mis/disinformation on the casualties in Gaza.
Disinformation-Fuelled Narratives Around Deaths in Gaza
On 28 October, Shoshani shared an image of a child using a smartphone while being wrapped in a white sheet, claiming that it showed an example of Gazans faking deaths.
However, the image dated back to October 2022 and showed a child wearing a costume for a Halloween competition in Thailand.
Similarly, an old video from Egypt was shared as news organisation Al Jazeera preparing to film the bodies insinuating that it shows people faking deaths amid the ongoing conflict.
The video was shared by X (formerly Twitter) subscriber MeghUpdates, which has been called out multiple times for spreading disinformation.
According to a recent report published in Associated Press (AP), around 9,061 Palestinians have been killed and more than 22,000 have been injured in Gaza. Not only these claims question the death toll, but they also tend to mock the people who have lost their lives amid the ongoing conflict.
Another set of images, which showed three different people rescuing the same injured girl, went viral with users claiming that the same Palestinian girl was saved by three different people.
But here's the twist. Not only was the picture old, but it was from Syria and had no connection with the Israel-Hamas war. The images showed people rescuing a girl in Syria's Aleppo in 2016.
The Israeli Embassy in France shared a video of a man carrying a deceased child with the caption saying that it showed a plastic doll. The handle targeted Hamas and said that it intended on making people believe in the death of a baby following Israeli strikes.
However, The Quint contacted the person who took the video, Moamen Al-Halabi, who confirmed the location as Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. He added that the child's name was Omar Al-Banna, who passed away at four and a half years of age.
It should be noted that at the time this report was being written, no evidence was provided to support the claim that people were faking casualties in Gaza.
A behind-the-scenes footage from 2017 showing Palestinian makeup artist Mariam Saleh's work as a female special effects makeup artist was shared to claim that it shows Gazans faking injuries amid the ongoing war.
AI-Generated, Edited Media: Manipulating Emotions For Views
On 29 October, a video of model Bella Hadid was circulated with users claiming that it showed her expressing support for Israel.
Similarly, a video of the Queen Consort of Jordon Rania Al Abdullah was too shared on social media platforms to claim she was seen supporting Israel amid the conflict.
However, The Quint found out both these videos were deepfakes and their audios were altered using the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.
Another AI-generated image showing football club Atlético de Madrid's fans holding up the Palestinian flag was shared on the internet as a real incident.
On 22 October, an X premium subscriber shared an image claiming to show a temporary tent city made specifically for displaced citizens by the Israeli government.
However, the image turned out to be AI-generated after we noticed several discrepancies and passed it through AI images detection tools. Team WebQoof had earlier published a guide on how to identify AI images, you can read the same here.
Two images were shared on social media platforms with a claim that they showed recent visuals of children being affected in the ongoing conflict.
However, both these images were AI-generated.
While there are visuals of children being affected due to the war, sharing AI-generated images, especially to trigger emotions in people, is misleading and contributes to the spread of m/disinformation.
Watch this episode of The Quint's media literacy initiative Verify Kiya Kya? to understand how emotions are manipulated by bad actors spreading disinformation.
Made up Support For Gaza, Palestine Through Old Videos
Social media users shared a video claiming that thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
However, the video was altered. Two unrelated videos were actually stitched together and peddled as a huge number of Israelis protesting.
However, the video turned out to be old and dated back to 2021.
Similarly, a video from 2021, which showed an Irish politician, Matt Carthy, introducing a bill to prevent Irish taxpayers' money from being invested in companies "that profit from Israel's illegal occupation and settlement expansion" was shared as recent.
The use of altered media to show manufactured support for either side in the war would only lead to a lack of trust in existing visuals coming from the conflict area or elsewhere.
As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, the flow of misinformation and false narratives refuses to die down. This increases the responsibility of the reader to verify every piece of content that they consume or share with others.