A photo shows an old railway station in Palestine.
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Recently, social media users and media pages widely circulated an image purporting to feature a train station in the city of Haifa, Palestine, in 1934.
The image was initially disseminated by a Palestinian news outlet, Quds News Network, on September 21, 2022. The same outlet circulated the image on September 25, 2023, but later deleted it after amassing about 50,000 views.
Misbar investigated the circulating image and found the claim to be misleading.
A thorough reverse image search revealed the image making the rounds to be unrelated to Haifa, Palestine.
The Old Image Shows a Railway Station in Syria, Not in Palestine
Alamy originally published the image, which was displayed with a yellow tint. According to the image caption, the scene shows a railway station in Homs, Syria, in 1900.
“Age fotostock” website also published the same image, and in their description, the website identified it as showing a railway station in Syria in 1900.
The Hijaz-Palestine Railway
During the reign of Ottoman Sultan Abdel Hamid II, a significant project was initiated to connect the holy sites in the Hijaz region to Istanbul via a railway. This project aimed to showcase the Sultan's strength and his commitment to the Islamic community by facilitating pilgrimages to the Hijaz. Sultan Abdel Hamid II strategically used propaganda and media to portray the railway as a symbol of resistance against European influence in the Middle East, solidifying the Ottoman Empire's authority.
The railway not only served as a means of control over distant Ottoman territories but also highlighted the Sultan's role as the guardian of Islam, ensuring the movement of pilgrims to Mecca and other holy sites. Construction began in 1900 between Damascus and Dar'a, with the project reaching completion in 1908 when the Medina train station was inaugurated. Moreover, a secondary line was established between Dar'a in Syria and Haifa on the Mediterranean coast, officially opening on October 15, 1905.
The Hejaz Railway faced numerous attacks and damages, especially during the Arab Revolt, when Ottoman trains were targeted by guerrilla forces under the leadership of T. E. Lawrence. Parts of the Hejaz Railway still exist.