Hamas co-opts photos of injured Syrians

Jewish Agency social media expert says the truth is "often the first casualty in these situations."

November 18, 2012 23:32
2 minute read.
Other conflicts on social media

Fake Hamas photo 370. (photo credit: Facebook)


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Hamas has posted photographs from other conflicts on social media in recent days, claiming they are victims of Israeli actions in Gaza.

On Thursday, the Izzadin Kassam tweeted a photograph of a weeping father with his dead, bloody child in his arms, while doctors look on.

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Soon after, Twitter followers pointed out that the photo was taken at the Dar al-Shifa Hospital in Aleppo, Syria, and originally came from a slideshow on The Guardian website.

Izzadin Kassam deleted the tweet, but it was immortalized in screencaps posted on Facebook and Twitter.

On Saturday, pro-Palestinian activists co-opted another photograph, this time of an injured infant held by a rescue worker.

A Twitter user named ProSyriana wrote “even this young injured Palestinian child doesn’t seem surprised or scared, used to Israeli terrorism.”

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However, Facebook and Twitter users identified the photo as one previously posted by Avital Leibovitch, the IDF spokeswoman to the international media, of a baby wounded by a Hamas rocket attack.

A graphic shared dozens of times on Facebook also said that the rescue worker’s reflective vest said “Kiryat Malachi” on it.

“It’s quite egregious,” Jewish Agency director of new media Avi Mayer said of the two incidents. “One can expect little else from an organization that prides itself on lies. Deception is [Hamas’s] way of life.”

Mayer said such false captions on photos are not a new phenomenon and did not come as a surprise to social media experts, explaining that the truth is the best way to combat lies.

“Other pro-Israel social media users did an excellent job,” he stated.

“Using online research tools to dig into history and reveal the truth is very effective.”

“Obviously, Hamas has banked on the idea that a lie can reach halfway around the world before the truth can catch up to it,” Natalie Menaged, director of education for Hasbara Fellowships, said.

Menaged said image search tools have made it easy to verify a picture’s authenticity in minutes, and many individuals have taken it upon themselves to do so and indentify false reports.

“While we have to be vigilant about anti-Israel propaganda online, it’s even more important for us to spread trustful information.

In particular, we should focus on spreading personal stories, photos and pictures of Israelis under fire,” she added.

Mayer said that CNN’s Anderson Cooper recently apologized for using footage in which a person who appeared to be dead was “not quite as dead a few moments later,” the Jewish Agency representative quipped.

“It’s commendable when news organizations are able to correct early impressions,” Mayer said, adding that he hopes others will follow suit.

“Truth is often the first casualty in those situations,” Mayer explained, “and it’s our responsibility to bring it back to life. I’m proud to be part of that effort.”

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