Hybrid warfare in the Gaza Strip continues to escalate both on the battlefield and online, with fighting on the ground killing thousands and propaganda campaigns engaging millions of social media users.
After conducting weeks of intense airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Hamas killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking some 200 hostages, Israel launched an on-the-ground operation in Gaza on October 27.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims that Israeli airstrikes have killed 8,000 people, including 3,000 children. Israel disputes these numbers, claiming Hamas has been inflating them.
Viral posts on social media claim some scenes of death and carnage are fake.
Israel supporters on X are using the derogatory label “Pallywood” — a mix of the words “Palestine” and “Hollywood” — to claim that Palestinians are staging scenes of death and violence using so-called crisis actors to elicit global sympathy and win the PR war with Israel.
For example, on October 27, rose_k01, a blued-checked X user with an active subscription to the platform and more than 78,000 followers, shared a photomontage appearing to show three different men carrying the same child.
The caption to the rose_k01 post reads:
“Palestine Pallywood is running out [of] child actors Same Kid rescued over and over again.”
Another verified X user, ivgiz, who has nearly 167K followers, shared the same photomontage, with this caption in Hebrew:
“How many times has she been saved with the same clothes?”
The photos are real but have nothing to do with Gaza. They show a Syrian girl who was rescued in Aleppo, Syria, on August 27, 2016, following an airstrike by Syrian government forces.
The original photos used to make the montage were taken by Ameer al-Halabi, a freelance photographer for Agence France-Presse.
The photos were taken within 80 seconds of each other, and show the same girl, who had been handed off to three different men during a rescue operation.
The same photomontage has been used in a broader Russia-backed disinformation campaign to falsely accuse the White Helmets, Syrian volunteer rescue workers, of staging atrocities.
Other recent social media posts shared by rose_k01 and others have likewise attempted to claim Palestinians are using crisis actors in their propaganda war against Israel.
For example, pro-Israel posters falsely claimed that Saleh Aljafarawi, a 25-year-old Palestinian who has been blogging about the Israel-Hamas conflict, faked a scene of being hospitalized following an Israeli bombing.
Those social media claims showed side-by-side videos of an individual identified as Aljafarawi. In the first video, marked “today,” Aljafarawi is shown walking around in good health, filming scenes in Gaza. In the adjacent video, labeled “yesterday,” an individual identified as Aljafarawi is shown receiving care in a hospital bed.
But the individual in the hospital bed footage is actually Saeed Zandek, a 16-year-old who lost his leg during an Israeli raid on the Nur Shams refugee camp on July 24, Reuters reported.
In other social media posts, footage showing Palestinian makeup artist Mariam Salah applying fake blood and other wounds to help the French charity Doctors of the World conduct a medical training exercise in 2017 has falsely been passed off as evidence that Palestinians are staging atrocities.
As Polygraph.info previously reported, misuse and misattribution of old footage have become a signature disinformation tactic in the Israel-Hamas war.
Polygraph.info has documented several such examples. They include attempts to pass off footage from the war in Syria, footage of an Indian navy missile test, and footage of militant activity in the Philippines, as coming from the Israel-Hamas conflict.
As is the case with this verification, blued-checked users with an active subscription to X Premium regularly use the social media platform to spread disinformation about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
A recent study by NewsGuard, an information analysis company, found that blue-checked, “verified” X users had accounted for 74% of the platform’s most viral false or unsubstantiated claims during the first week of the Israel-Hamas War.