Photo from Syria shared as Israeli army attacking Gaza with white phosphorous

By: Umme Kulsum
November 6 2023

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Photo from Syria shared as Israeli army attacking Gaza with white phosphorous

Screenshots of social media posts purporting to show an image of Israeli bombarding Gaza with white phosphorus (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

This image is from March 2018 in Douma, Syria. It is not an Israeli bomb in Gaza.

Claim ID 923e8aa1

What’s the claim?

Claims of the Israeli army using white phosphorus during the ongoing Israel-Hamas are being widely shared across social media platforms. An image showing sparks falling from the sky is viral on X (formerly Twitter) with the caption, “Israeli army continues bombarding Gaza with the prohibited white phosphorus.” The post gathered more than 293,000 views and about 290 reshares. Archived versions of such posts can be found here, here, here, and here.

 The image was also shared on Facebook with the same narrative. Archive versions can be accessed here and here.

Screenshot of claims made online (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the image dates back to March 2018 and was captured in Douma in Syria, not Gaza.

 What we found

A reverse image search showed the same viral image on Getty Images, uploaded on March 23, 2018. The photo was attributed to AFP photographer Hamza Al-Ajweh. According to Getty Images, the photo shows "what appears to be white phosphorous incendiaries," and was shot during a suspected chemical attack in Douma that was allegedly carried out by the Syrian government forces against rebel-held areas there. 

The same caption appears on the image page on AFP. This confirms the image is unrelated to the recent Israel-Hamas war.

Screenshot of image from AFP and Getty Images (Source: AFP Photos/ Getty Images)

2018 attacks in Douma, Syria

According to Reuters, Syrian government forces in early 2018 launched a ground offensive on Douma. There were allegations that the Syrian government used chemical in the attacks. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights alleged that the air strikes were likely carried out by Russian warplanes.

In 2023, an investigation by the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), established there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that in April 2018, Douma was struck by chlorine gas cylinders dropped by the Syrian air force.

 Israel accused of using white phosphorus in Gaza

Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions in its military operations in Gaza and Lebanon following the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. However, the Israeli Defence Forces have disputed Human Rights Watch's assertions that they used white phosphorus munitions in their combat operations in Gaza, according to the Guardian.

Logically Facts has previously fact-checked an unrelated image being shared as white phosphorous being used by Israel in Gaza, available here.

 The verdict

The now-viral image was taken in March 2018 and shows suspected chemical bombs landing in the Syrian town of Douma. The photo surfaced online years before the war triggered by the Hamas attack. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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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