As the confrontation in Gaza expands, anti-Israel groups have uploaded several fabricated or antiquated photos of children who were allegedly wounded by the Israel Defense Forces in the latest round of fighting. But quick-witted pro-Israel bloggers, tweeps, and the IDF's Spokesperson's Unit have exposed several attempts to enter fraudulent imagery into the world's public consciousness through the Internet.
In the past four days, two cases of photos proven to be fabricated have been exposed. In one photo that has been widely distributed on the Internet since the current round of fighting began, a young girl is seen covered in blood, being carried by an older man. In one version of the photo, the caption reads, “Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by Israel. Another father carrying his child to a grave in Gaza.”
The photo was first exposed as a fraud by Israeli blogger Avi Mayer on Twitter. After Mayer's discovery, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the photo had been taken by the Reuters news agency in 2006, and did indeed show a girl who was injured, but not in an IDF attack. After its initial publication, Reuters clarified that the photo was of a girl who had been hurt while riding her bicycle.
“When we discovered the truth, we began disclosing it on Twitter and Facebook, and released an official message about it. After a while, the person who first uploaded it to the Internet apologized and removed it from the page to which she uploaded it,” an IDF spokesman said.
Honest Reporting, a pro-Israeli organization working against biased media coverage of Israel, uncovered that the original source of the tweeted photo, Khulood Badawi, was an employee of the U.N. Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It called for “the immediate dismissal of Khulood Badawi on the grounds of incitement," blogger Jenny Hauser reported.
One of the Palestinian Twitter users, who had helped spread the image, on Sunday issued an apology and clarification about the origins of the photo. Diana Alzeer wrote on Twitter: "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."
In another incident, the IDF managed to expose that a photo circulated by pro-Palestinians as if it had been taken in this round of fighting had actually been taken during the IDF incursion in Gaza in 2008, known as “Operation Cast Lead.” The photo showed a Gazan house after it was blown up, and was used by provocateurs to show that the IDF was allegedly using excessive force in the current conflict.
“The Israel Air Force has recently struck surgical targets accurately. As soon as we uncovered the truth, we silenced those who were distributing the photos,” the IDF spokesman said.
Another image, posted by blogger Nour Abed, shows a child cleaning a bloodstained floor with a mop. The image was later exposed as having been taken from another anti-Israel blog posted in June 2011, with a caption that said, “Palestinian child washes the floor from his brother’s blood after his brother was killed by IOF [Israel Occupation Forces] bomb.” According to “Aussie Dave,” an Australian blogger who lives in Israel, an Israeli soldier’s mother pointed out that the photo had actually been taken originally from a different website and had been accompanied by the caption: “Palestinian kid cleaning up after the slaughter of a cow in his parents’ slaughterhouse, near Ramallah, Palestine.”
The Public Diplomacy Ministry joined the propaganda war on Monday, calling on residents of the south to document rocket attacks in their towns and cities using photos and film clips. Ministry officials said this material would be used for public diplomacy and would mainly be distributed on the Internet and to foreign journalists.