2021 photo from Afghanistan shared to show empty classrooms in Gaza amid Israel-Hamas conflict

By: Chandan Borgohain
December 21 2023

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2021 photo from Afghanistan shared to show empty classrooms in Gaza amid Israel-Hamas conflict

Social media users are sharing an old photo from Afghanistan as a classroom in Gaza amid the ongoing conflict. (Source: Facebook/Instagram/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The viral photo shows a classroom of a school in Kabul that was bombed in 2021. It is not from Gaza and is unrelated to the ongoing conflict.

Claim ID 498b98dc

What is the claim?

A photo showing a burqa-clad woman inside an empty classroom with bouquets of flowers placed on the desks has been circulating on social media with the claim that it depicts a room in a school in Gaza that has been under siege for over two months. 

Sharing the photo on Facebook, one user wrote: "A classroom in a school in Gaza...All the students were martyred. At a time when the teacher pays tribute to her students with flowers. Remember, in Gaza, the 2023-2024 academic year has been canceled. Because almost all the children were martyred (roughly translated from Assamese)." An archived version can be found here.

One Instagram user shared the photo with an Arabic caption, which roughly translates to, "All students in Gaza received the certificate Congratulations to you, students of Gaza and mothers of Gaza. (sic)"

Screenshot of an Instagram post sharing the viral photo. (Source: Instagram/Modified by Logically Facts)

At least 20,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in Gaza amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict that started in October. According to Al Jazeera, more than 6,600 children in Gaza have been killed by the Israeli forces during this time. Amid the unrelenting Israeli bombing and airstrikes, Gaza's Ministry of Education has reportedly suspended the 2023-2024 academic year in November. 

However, this viral image is not from Gaza and does not signify the plight of children and students amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The photo was actually taken in 2021, and it shows a school classroom in Afghanistan that had suffered a bomb attack.

What did we find?

We performed a reverse image search and found an article on Human Rights Watch published on September 7, 2021. The article titled "Explosive Weapons Attacks on Afghanistan Schools Increase" carried the same viral photo. The photo was credited to Rahmat Gul of AP Photo and was captured on May 16, 2021. The photo caption read: "The mother of a schoolgirl who was among those killed in the brutal May 8, 2021 bombing of the Sayed ul-Shuhada girls' school stands inside a classroom with bouquets of flowers on empty desks as a tribute to the dead, in Kabul,"

Screenshot of the original photo captured by Rahmat Gul for AP Photo in Kabul on May 16, 2021. (Source: Human Rights Watch/AP Photo/Screenshot)

We also searched for related photos on AP Photos and found similar images of the classroom captured by Rahmat Gul. According to the captions, all these images were taken on May 16, 2021, when the schoolgirls and parents paid tribute to those killed in the brutal May 8 bombing of the Syed Al-Shahda school.

Screenshot of the photos shared by AP depicting the Kabul classroom on May 16, 2021. (Source: AP Photo/Screenshots)

Reuters reported that an explosion caused by a car bomb and mortars outside a school in the capital city of Afghanistan on May 8, 2021, killed at least 55 people and wounded over 150, mostly female students. The then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had blamed Taliban insurgents for the attack, the report added. 

The verdict

The viral photo is from 2021 and is unrelated to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. It shows a classroom where flower bouquets were laid on the desks to pay tribute to the victims of a school bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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