Photo of Benjamin Netanyahu in a hospital bed is AI-generated

By: Iryna Hnatiuk
April 4 2024

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Photo of Benjamin Netanyahu in a hospital bed is AI-generated


The Verdict Fake

The image of Benjamin Netanyahu in a hospital bed is AI-generated and has been previously used in disinformation efforts regarding his health.

Claim ID 7b5f9690


Benjamin Netanyahu recently underwent a hernia operation following a diagnosis during a routine check-up, as confirmed by official Israeli government channels. The procedure necessitated a temporary step-down, with Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Yariv Levin assuming Netanyahu's responsibilities during his recovery.

On Monday, March 1, The Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem reported that Netanyahu was awake and conversing with his family post-surgery, and his recovery is progressing well. 

Along with these official reports, social media saw the spread of alleged images of Netanyahu hospitalized, being unconscious in a hospital bed, and wearing an oxygen mask (archived here).

However, the image is AI-generated. 

What we found

Benjamin Netanyahu's official X (formerly Twitter) account published a video on April 2 featuring the Israeli PM making a statement from the hospital. The image shows him in good condition, and Netanyahu claims he is recovering and continues to work from the hospital.

The official statement of the Israeli PM shows him in good condition. (Source: X/Prime Minister of Israel/Screenshot)

We used a reverse image search to find the origin of the image used in social media, and it led us to a post by BBC fact-checker Shayan Sardarizadeh, from November 8, 2023. The image was linked to false claims about Netanyahu's health and intensive care treatment and was proven to be AI-generated.

The image was previously used in disinformation campaigns and proven to be AI-generated by the BBC. (Source: X/Shayan Sardarizadeh/Screenshot)

The use of the photo in the previous disinformation campaigns confirms that it is not related to the current state of health of the Israeli leader. 

A closer look at the image shows us the primary indications that it may be AI-generated. We see a tube that leads nowhere, discrepancies in textures, and blurred objects. The man's shoulder is unnaturally turned up; it's not lying on the bed as the body of an unconscious person in medicated sleep should behave.

A closer examination of the image shows us that it is AI-generated. (Source: Facebook, screenshot)

Notably, uploading the photo to the Hive Moderation service, which uses machine learning models to detect AI-generated content, results in a response that there is only a 13 percent probability of the image being generated by AI. Similar results were provided by both the AI or Not and Optic tools. This confirms that such identifiers can't be used as an independent source of information about an image's origins. 

Hany Farid, a professor at UC Berkeley and an expert on digital image manipulation, confirmed this to Logically Facts, saying, "We have to look at the whole picture and use our logic. Working with AI-generated images is more complex than pressing a button and getting an answer." 

The verdict

While it is confirmed that Netanyahu underwent an operation, it's also been confirmed that he is recovering well. The image of him in a hospital bed is AI-generated and has been previously used in disinformation efforts regarding Netanyahu's health. Consequently, we have marked this image as fake.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before