Millions of X users recently engaged with posts designed to implicate Israel in committing a “Holocaust” in Gaza. The trend was boosted by the platform’s anti-Israeli influencers, who used the same photograph with slightly different descriptions. The image showed a woman carrying a toy car down the staircase of a destroyed building.
Among the boosters was Maram Susli, or “Syrian Girl,” a blue-checked X user with more than 200k followers, claiming on November 10:
“Wading through rubble to get all that is left to remind her of her child. #GazaHolocaust.”
Another blue-checked X-er Jackson Hinkle with two million followers, wrote:
“You CANNOT BREAK the Palestinian spirit.”
Those descriptions are false as they are unrelated to the image.
The photograph was taken by Hassan Ghaedi, an Iranian-born freelance photographer in the city of Homs, the rebels’ stronghold during the Syrian Civil War.
In 2020, the Siena International Photo Awards recognized his photograph as “remarkable artwork.”
It showed a mother returning to the city, large swaths of which were destroyed during the years-long siege by government forces, starting in 2011. Although hostilities in Homs ended by 2017, when the Syrian government said it had regained full control of the city, many buildings there remain in ruins.
On November 13, X users added a community note to Sulsi’s post clarifying where the image came from, and she deleted her post.
She focused on spreading disinformation and conspiracy theories about the United States, Israel and allies while whitewashing the actions of the Assad regime and Russia during the Syrian war.
Through her YouTube channel and social media accounts, Sulsi has been peddling serial accusations against the United States and its intelligence agencies, including orchestration of the uprising against Assad, and funding for al-Qaida and the Islamic State (ISIS). She called 9/11 a U.S. government false flag attack, speculated that Ebola could be a U.S. biological weapon, spread “Illuminati” conspiracy theories, called the Black Live Matter protests a “color revolution,” and labeled Israel the “Jewish version of ISIS.”
Sulsi is a contributing commentator to Russia-state-owned outlets RT and Sputnik, and Iran’s state-run Press TV.
Prior to Eon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the social media platform had limited Susli’s account features in July 2021, apparently for a tweet which stated, in part: “There’s a genocide against Palestinians. But there’s no Ugyhur [sic] genocide.”
In 2018, British government analysts incorrectly identified Susli as a Russian bot. Susli reportedly posted an average of 200 tweets a day in just two weeks following the 2018 poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England. Her posts, mirroring the Kremlin’s denials of involvement in the poisoning, reached some 62 million users at the time, the UK investigation said.
Like Sulsi, Hinkle is a contributor to Russian government-owned RT, which identifies him as a “political analyst.”
X users added a community note to Hinkle’s post some two days later, by which point it had already received more than 1.1 million views. Hinkle has not deleted the original post, or offered a correction.
Banned for spreading disinformation by YouTube, Hinkle has become one of the most prolific spreaders of disinformation about the Israel-Hamas conflict on X.
With approximately 100,000 followers at the start of the year, Hinkle saw his follower base balloon to 2 million a little over a month into the conflict, Rolling Stone reported.
Hinkle previously focused on spreading pro-Russia, anti-Ukraine disinformation.
Last month, he claimed to be the “most viral X account worldwide,” surpassing even Elon Musk.
Hinkle’s hit posts include suggestions the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel was a false flag operation, using footage of U.S.-led coalition forces’ white phosphorous attack against ISIS in Syria to falsely accuse Israeli forces of using white phosphorous near a hospital in Gaza, and falsely claiming that thousands of U.S. Marines had landed in Gaza.