Photo from Thailand wrongly linked to Palestinians faking death
The photo is from 2022 when children dressed up for Halloween
Claim: An image of a corpse using their phone is going viral on social media with the claim that Palestinians are faking their deaths.
Fact: The image is from October 2022, and shows children who had dressed up for Halloween in Thailand.
What’s happening in Gaza?
On October 7 2023, the Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, launched a “surprise attack” on Israel via sea, land, and air. In response, the Israeli government formally declared war on Hamas on 8 October 2023.
At least 1,400 fatalities have been reported in Israel and 230 people are held captive in Gaza as per Israeli authorities. Health officials reported that more than 8,309 people have been killed in Gaza, Palestine, of whom nearly 67 per cent are reportedly children and women, according to data published on the website of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
On 27 October 2023, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a major resolution on the Gaza crisis, calling for an immediate “humanitarian truce” and the protection of civilians.
On the same day, Israel intensified Gaza’s bombing as it launched a second phase with ground operations after imposing a communications blackout in the Palestinian territory.
Fact or Fiction?
On 26 October 2023, X (formerly Twitter) user, @benonwine shared a photo claiming it shows a Palestinian child, who was killed by a rocket from Israel, texting on the phone.
The picture’s caption reads, “One of the Gazans killed by a rocket from Israel is texting her friends, it’s almost as if she’s made a miraculous recovery Stop believing Hamas propaganda.”
A reverse-image search led us to a tweet from June 2023 which carries the same photo, and it predates the recent escalation between Israel and Palestine. The caption for the June tweet suggests that the photo was originally shared as a meme, about sharing one last update on Twitter before going to your grave. We also found a post on Facebook from 29 May, sharing the same photo.
Further searching led Soch Fact Check to a Facebook post from 29 October 2022 by a Thailand-based news outlet, Morning News which had shared the image along with three other images of children dressed up as ghosts.
The caption of the post translates to the following in English:
“This Halloween, I believe that many parents will have fun dressing their children up as cute ghosts. The Halloween festival is approaching in just a few days.
Recently, another mother with a very creative idea. Caught her child dressed as a ghost and put a frame to hold an incense pot. The other one is a ghost with a logo in a paper box. Contested at an event in a famous shopping mall. Nakhon Ratchasima
Won the 3rd prize.”
We noted that Surattana Sawadkit has been credited for the photos. Her profile on Facebook carries a pinned post with the same images, but with the caption, “A small event. Easy and comfortable dress. No need for much. All are friendly people.”
Hence, Soch Fact Check can conclude that the photo has been wrongly linked to the recent escalation between Israel and Palestine.
Casting doubt on Palestinian injuries and deaths is not a new phenomenon, many of the posts sharing this image included the hashtag ‘#Pallywood’. Pallywood — a combination of the words “Palestinian” and “Hollywood” — denotes “supposed media manipulation, distortion or fraud by some Palestinians putatively designed to win the public relations war with Israel”, according to DBpedia, which describes itself as a crowdsourced community effort to extract structured content “from the information created in various Wikimedia projects”. Pallywood is noted for being a “racist”, “derogatory”, and a “hasbara” term, as well as an “ethnic slur”.
Recently, the US President Joe Biden, also publicly cast doubts over the Palestinian death count in the Israel-Gaza escalation. In a press conference on 25 October, he said that he has “no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using” for the death toll in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, according to a report by Reuters. In response, Gaza’s Health Ministry released a complete full list of the Palestinians that have been killed in the ongoing Israeli attacks.
The image was also shared by X account @TheMossadIL in an attempt to cast doubts over the number of Palestinian casualties reported by the health ministry of Gaza. The photo was viewed by 616,200 people, received 17,000 likes and 4,000 shares.
On Reddit, we found a user comparing the photo to that of a crisis actor.
Conclusion: The image in question is not related to the escalation between Israel and Palestine. It actually originates from a Halloween celebration in Thailand in October 2022, where children dressed up in costumes and was also shared in a meme format previously.
Background image in cover photo: Ahmed Abu Hameeda
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