The Washington Post

As Israel-Gaza truce takes hold, propaganda war continues online

After four days of cross-border violence between Gaza and Israel, claiming the lives of 23 Palestinians, a reported truce mediated by Egypt has brought a “shaky calm” to the region, The Post’s Karin Brulliard reports.

Masked Palestinian militants ride on a truck after a news conference in Gaza City on Tuesday. Israel halted its airstrikes against Gaza Strip militants early that day. (Adel Hana/AP)

On Monday, for example, Palestinians activists began circulating an image allegedly showing a father carrying his daughter to her grave this week in Gaza. You can see the very graphic image here.

Israelis online soon pointed to a link for a Reuters photo correction as evidence that the photo was actually from 2006. According to the correction, the girl had died in a swing accident, not an attack.

One Palestinian activist apologized for sharing the old photo:

Warning/Apology: Photo I tweeted earlier which has been circulated over FB turns out to be old photo of Raja Abu Sha’ban killed in Gaza 2006

— Diana Alzeer (@ManaraRam) March 11, 2012

A second photo was shared by Palestinians online Saturday, beginning with Palestinian activist Maissam Nablussi on his Facebook page. Nablussi called the photo “one of the strongest explosions” in Gaza Saturday:


But after Israeli activists pointed out the photo showed an Israeli airstrike on Gaza as part of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009, Nablussi quickly removed the photo from her Facebook wall.

Some of the most pointed criticism of Palestinian activists for their sharing of old photos came from the Israeli Defense Forces blog.

Only hours after the blog detailed why the photos were false, however, Israeli defense spokeswoman Avital Leibovich was discovered circulating an old video too:

A barrage of Grad rockets,ranging 40 km.,fired by Islamic Jihad into #Israel…

— Avital Leibovich (@AvitalLeibovich) March 12, 2012

Leibovich said the video of a Palestinian rocket launcher was taken this week; according to YouTube, the video was actually uploaded in October of last year.

The same day, the Israeli prime minister’s spokesperson Ofir Gendelman posted a photo to Twitter that was taken in 2009. He later clarified:

@avimayer @Amirmizroch I never said that the photo was new, as Palestinian terrorists have been firing rockets at our cities for years.

— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) March 12, 2012

The spreading of false information has been a problem since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began, but the ease of sharing on social media has presented new challenges for both sides.


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