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An Israeli Disinformation Campaign Claims Palestinians Are Faking Their Deaths

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
2nd November 2023
An Israeli Disinformation Campaign Claims Palestinians Are Faking Their Deaths
A Palestinian mother embraces her child, a victim of Israeli bombing (Getty)

Israeli accounts continue to publish new misleading claims, trying to cast doubt on the veracity of images that show dying Palestinians and their corpses. Following the investigation by Misbar on Israeli accounts using an old fake video in order to accuse Palestinians of faking scenes of killed people, Israeli pages have published new misleading images, insisting on spreading the same claims in what appears to be a widespread disinformation campaign led by the Israeli side.

Recently, the “Israel” account, which belongs to the Israeli Foreign ministry, published a video of a Palestinian corpse wrapped in a shroud, claiming that it was moving. The page commented in English about the video: “The Gaza Ministry of Health=Hamas. Bodies can’t move their heads.” The video footage, aired by Israeli Channel 12, shows a Palestinian young man and a woman next to a dead body, claiming that the corpse’s head had moved.

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The Corpse Moves Due to the Knots Tying the Shroud Together

Misbar analyzed the video which shows the moving head of the corpse and it turns out to be misleading. The dead body itself did not move, but the young man next to it moved a part of the shroud which made the head rise a little, thus appearing to be moving.

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We performed a technical analysis of the video, by slowing its speed to the lowest setting and reviewing the footage frame by frame. The shots of the head movements were completely synchronized with those of the young man pulling at the middle of the corpse. The latter also did not move at all independently from the hand movements, not even with a small disparity of fractions of a second. The slowed video can be viewed here.

The movements of the head are due to the knots used to tie the shroud together, which is part of funerary traditions. The dead body is tied with knots corresponding to five points: The head, the feet, the abdomen, the thighs and the chest. This method is called “the shroud bind” and its aim is to fix the muscles of the corpse to avoid movements of the body while it is being carried in the shroud, in order to keep the shroud tight and closed until burial time. Thus, when part of the shroud is moved, body parts like the head might move because of the connected knots. That is what happened in the video.

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Accounts Republishing Similar Misleading Claims

In the same context, many accounts published similar misleading images. Edy Cohen published an image of a person using a smartphone while wearing a shroud, with the comment: “A corpse in Gaza sending a text from a phone."

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The Image is Not From Gaza

Checking the image shows that it’s old and that Cohen’s claims are false. It was published in 2022 and was taken during Halloween celebrations for kids in Thailand. Misbar found the picture that Cohen used in an old post from October 2022.

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Misbar has previously revealed similar misleading claims, including the use by Israeli accounts of acting images of moving corpses, in order to promote the misleading rumor that Palestinians are faking the images of the dead in Gaza.

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Israeli Propaganda Methods of Faking Real Death Scenes

With the rising Palestinian death toll due to Israeli bombings in the Gaza strip, numerous images showing the corpses of the victims have emerged. At the same time, Israeli accounts led a large misleading campaign in order to try and cast doubt on those images, using different methods in order to mislead public opinion.

Among these methods, claims that the images were acts, or that they were fake, through the sarcastic manipulation of death scenes by Israeli influencers, to take aim at their seriousness and the empathy they generated. Israeli pages led this propaganda campaign in different languages, including English, in what appears to be an effort to promote these misleading posts to a variety of audiences, especially western ones.

It is also worth noting that Israeli accounts led this misleading campaign using a strategy which links the Palestinian victims to Hamas, insisting for instance that the Palestinian Health ministry in Gaza is Hamas, and using that to challenge the credibility of the death toll the ministry announces.

This is similar to the method used by Western and Israeli media outlets which consists in attributing the images showing Palestinian victims to Hamas. It aims to undermine the veracity of the news by attributing to a source that was previously the target of a large smear campaign. Israel and Western media have previously promoted the idea that Hamas is a criminal organization similar to ISIS. Israel has also mobilized international sympathy to promote this narrative.

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Claims Come as Israeli Aggression Death Toll Rises

These misleading claims became more common as the Israeli aggression on Gaza continues. According to the latest update by the Palestinian Health ministry, 8485 people in Gaza and 125 in the West Bank were killed by the Israeli aggression, in addition to 23050 people wounded.

The World Health Organization has warned that a public health catastrophe is looming on the Gaza strip. This comes as the Israeli occupation continues to target hospitals, in addition to the severe deficiency in fuel and the damage to the water and sewage infrastructure due to the ongoing Israeli aggression. All of this on top of Israel cutting water, electricity and communications in the Gaza strip.

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