No, image does not show 'mass exodus' at Israel airport amid tensions with Iran

By: Ankita Kulkarni
April 17 2024

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No, image does not show 'mass exodus' at Israel airport amid tensions with Iran

Screenshot of social media posts circulating online. (Source: X/Instagram/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The viral image, captured in April 2022, depicts a crowd at Ben Gurion International Airport prior to the Jewish holiday season of Passover.

Claim ID 2d64e847

What is the claim?

An image circulating on social media platforms, including Instagram, Threads, and X (formerly Twitter), depicts a large crowd at an airport. The claim accompanying the image is that it shows "a mass exodus as tens of thousands of Zionist families flee Israel to their countries of origin" in response to the ongoing tensions between Israel and Iran. Archived versions of these posts can be viewed here, here, and here

The image has gone viral in the context of Iran launching hundreds of missiles and aerial drones aimed towards Israel on April 13 in retaliation for Israel's suspected attack on the Iranian consulate building in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month, which resulted in the death of seven Iranian officials. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claim to have intercepted 300 Iranian drones with assistance from the U.K., France, and U.S. forces.

Screenshot of social media posts circulating online. (Source: X/Instagram/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts) 

The image in question, however, predates the current conflict between Israel and Iran. It was taken in April 2022 and shows people gathered at the departures area of Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel before the Jewish holiday of Passover. Passover, or Pesach, is a significant eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the Biblical story of Israel's liberation from slavery in Egypt.

What did we find?

A reverse image search of the viral picture led us to a report published by The Times of Israel (TOI) on April 14, 2022. The report features the exact image from the viral post, with the caption, "Departing travelers at Ben Gurion Airport ahead of the Jewish holiday of Passover, April 14, 2022."

The Times of Israel reported that the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) had warned of thousands of passengers passing through the Ben Gurion Airport as travel resumed nearly two years after the pandemic began, amid the waning COVID-19 pandemic and ahead of the Jewish Passover holiday.

The image was also found on the Flash 90 website, an Israeli photojournalism agency. The image caption credits Avshalom Sassoni for the photograph which was taken on April 14, 2022.

A report by The Jerusalem Post from April 14, 2022, provides similar details, adding that due to the holiday season, "71,400 passengers from 454 international flights traveled through Ben-Gurion Airport," leading to flight delays.

Furthermore, the presence of people wearing facial masks in the picture indicates that it was taken during the COVID-19 pandemic when indoor masks were mandatory. However, Israel lifted these restrictions on April 23, 2022, weeks after the viral picture was taken, further indicating that the photograph predates the current conflict between Iran and Israel.

The verdict 

A 2022 image of travelers at the departure area of Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel, taken ahead of the Passover holiday season, is being shared with a false narrative that it depicts Israelis fleeing the country amid tensions with Iran. We have, therefore, marked the claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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