In the battle over public opinion, much has been said about the IDF and Israel –some of it true, a lot of it not. Many times a photo or a video goes viral, giving people a completely false impression of what really happened. Here are 5 smear campaigns about the IDF, from the least-known to the most famous, which turned out to be 100% fake:
5. IDF Soldier Stepping on Girl
In February, a photo showing a girl being stepped on by an IDF soldier went viral, sparking outrage online against Israel. First debunked by ElderofZiyon, the photo was in fact part of a 2009 street theater showin Bahrain.
4. Mavi Marmara Photo Fraud
The 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, also known as the “Gaza flotilla raid”, sparked much debate over the nature of “non-violent” activism. The flotilla’s passengers claimed to have been completely peaceful; the soldiers claimed to have been lynched. Several months after the incident a Turkish news outlet released photos contradicting the activists’ claims, showing a so-called “non-violent activist” holding a bloodstained knife with a pool of blood–but the photos, when published by Reuters, were suspiciously cropped and omit the weapon.
3. Raja Abu Shaban
In March, during an escalation of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, a photo of Raja Abu Shaban, a 3-year-old allegedly killed by an IDF airstrike in Gaza, was circulating on Twitter. The misinformation campaign started when a UN worker, Khulood Badawi, posted the photo and claimed that it was recent — and that the IDF was to blame. It wasn’t true. Sadly, Raja Abu Shaban was killed when she fell off a swing in 2006.
The false claims were originally debunked by Avi Mayer and the IDF Blog, with later details added by Honest Reporting. Along with the Raja Abu Shaban photo, other dated photos which were attributed to the fighting also turned out to be false.
2. 2006 Lebanon War Photos
During the Lebanon War in 2006, photos that were manipulated or blatantly staged started flooding international media outlets, giving a twisted perspective of the reality in the field. The most well-known incident was when Adnan Hajj, a freelance journalist employed by Reuters, manipulated the smoke in photos of Beirut in order to falsely imply that Israeli air strikes caused greater damage.
The photos were originally debunked by the blog Little Green Footballs. Later, bloggers who analyzed other images discovered that more photos were doctored, and Hajj was subsequently fired. Despite this exposure, many other news outlets also published fake photos or misleading captions.
1. Muhammad al-Durrah
One of the most famous images from the last 15 years comes from what is known as the Mohammed al-Durrah incident. Originally filmed by Talal Abu Rahma for France 2 television, the footage allegedly shows that Muhammad al-Durrah, a 12-year-old boy, was killed by IDF fire and died in his father’s arms. The boy became a martyr and a symbol of the Palestinian Intifada.
The IDF was not to blame. Several sources worldwide debunked the original France 2 footage and suggest that al-Durrah was shot at by Palestinian forces — or that the whole incident was staged. Read more about the investigations and decide for yourself.
Know any other false incidents about the IDF that went viral? Share with us in the comments.