Iraqi photoshoot misrepresented as Pallywood ‘crisis actor’ video

By: Siri Christiansen
February 19 2024

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Iraqi photoshoot misrepresented as Pallywood ‘crisis actor’ video

Video from Instagram and X claiming to show crisis actors in Gaza.


The Verdict False

Behind-the-scenes footage from a 2019 photoshoot in Iraq has resurfaced as a viral Pallywood video claiming to show Palestinian crisis actors.

Claim ID 0a415550

The claim

A video has gone viral on social media alongside claims it shows Palestinians in Gaza faking injuries.

In the video, which is shot in a sandy, debris-filled, war-like setting, a little boy is smiling as a man rips his jumper, puts a bandage around his arm, and pours fake blood over it. The man is instructing the boy and two soldiers to sit in the sand, and the camera and lighting equipment suggest they are about to take a photo.

“Behind the scenes with Hamas propaganda studios,” one X user wrote in a viral post that has amassed over 340,000 views as of 12 February, along with the hashtag “HamasLiesExposed.” The video was also shared on Instagram by a large pro-Israeli account with the text “When you see these staged scenes out of Gaza it makes you question everything,” and has received 123,000 views as of February 14. The video has also appeared on TikTok. 

However, the video predates the Israel-Hamas conflict and was shot in Iraq.

The facts

Users on X quickly reacted to the video, several of whom claimed it was behind-the-scenes footage from a movie called Mosul. This theory was widely circulated by the account SyrianGirl, a pro-Palestinian account known for spreading misinformation. However, users referenced two different films – a 2019 Arabic-language American war action film, and a 2019 American war documentary film, both with the name Mosul.

Screenshots of social media posts spreading the claim. (Source: Instagram/X/Screenshots. Composite by Logically Facts)

A reverse image search on keyframes in the video shows that the video clip (archived here) was originally published on December 15, 2022, by a TikTok account called 1.q3i, a photographer with 101,000 followers. The photos from the session were later published in a follow-up video (archived here) on December 19, 2022.

Comparison of the viral footage with the original 2022 video. (Source: X/TikTok/Screenshots. Composite by Logically Facts)

Additional photos from the 2022 photoshoot were uploaded to the photographer’s Instagram on December 28, 2023.

(Source: TikTok/Instagram/Screenshots. Composite by Logically Facts)

Logically Facts contacted the photographer on Instagram, who confirmed that he is from Iraq, that the video clip is from a photo session in Baghdad, Iraq in 2019, and that the photos are not affiliated with any of the Mosul films but for the photographer’s own business.

The viral claim should be seen in the wider context of the so-called Pallywood claims that have surged on social media since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to data examined by Logically Facts. This narrative is based on the idea that Palestinians in Gaza purposefully produce footage of fake injuries and deaths to sway public opinion. Logically Facts has debunked several cases where unrelated images and videos have been misused, such as:

The verdict

The video predates the war between Israel and Hamas and belongs to a photographer based in Iraq. There is nothing that indicates that the video is meant to portray Palestinians in Gaza. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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