Visuals of baby killed in Gaza falsely shared as Palestinians faking infant's death with a doll

By: Ishita Goel
December 5 2023

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Visuals of baby killed in Gaza falsely shared as Palestinians faking infant's death with a doll

Social media posts faslely claim that visuals of a doll are being peddled as a dead infant killed by Israeli forces. (Source: Facebook/X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

According to several Palestinian journalists, the visuals show a 5-month-old baby killed in Gaza in an Israeli airstrike.

Claim ID 1897d523

What is the claim?

The official death toll in Gaza has crossed 15,000 since the Israel-Hamas conflict started in early October. Amid the conflict, several social media users, including influencers, have shared visuals to mock civilians in Gaza and claim that Palestinians are using 'crisis actors' and are 'faking' injuries and deaths to garner sympathy from the international community. 

As part of this narrative, two visuals of an infant wrapped in a white sheet are going viral on social media with the claim that they do not show a real baby but a doll. One 24-second clip shows a woman holding the infant and weeping. The other clip, which is over 47 seconds long, shows an older man holding the baby and addressing some people around him as he shows them the infant in his arms. 

One X user shared the two videos (archived here) with the caption, "Palestinians' in Gaza display a baby doll, claiming it's a real baby killed by the IDF." "A Palestinian woman sheds tears over a baby doll that was "killed" by Israel's bombardment," wrote some users (archived here and here.)

Screenshots of the viral posts on X and Facebook. (Source: Facebook/X/Modified by Logically Facts)

The claim was amplified by the Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post, in a now-removed X post (archived here), shared on December 1, 2023. The post read, "Al Jazeera posts blurred doll, claims it to be a dead Palestinian baby." The outlet said that the footage shared on Al Jazeera's X account claimed that the doll was a "month-and-a-half-old baby" killed by an Israeli bomb and shared images of the baby being held by the man seen in the viral clip. The X post also carried a link to a report that is no longer available on The Jerusalem Post's website. On December 2, the outlet posted a clarification on X, "Over the weekend, we shared an article based on faulty sourcing. The article in question did not meet our editorial standards and was thus removed."

Contrary to claims made online, the viral visuals do show an infant killed in an Israeli airstrike.

What are the facts?

We could see an overlaid text crediting the account 'Omar_aldirawi' in a few of the visuals of the baby shared on social media. Taking a clue from that, we traced the visual to Aldirawi's Instagram page. 

According to his Instagram bio, Aldirawi is a Palestinian photojournalist from Gaza. On December 1, he shared a video of the woman holding the baby with a caption in Arabic, that, in English, read, "A mother bid farewell to her martyr child, who was no more than 5 months old and was one of the targets of the occupation. This morning, after it violated the truce." In the next post, he shared a video of the same older man from the viral clip holding the baby and wrote, "One of the occupation targets bank is a child not older than 5 months old." In another post the same day, he shared clearer footage of the infant, captioned, "Children of Gaza are under the sun, oh world."

Similarly, we found a post by another photojournalist, Ali Jadallah, shared on December 1. The post showed the face of the same baby from the two viral clips. The accompanying caption read: "Dead body of a 5-month-old Palestinian baby named Muhammad Hani Al-Zahar, is brought to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital by his mother Asmahan Attia Al-Zahar and grandfather Attia Abu Amra after the Israeli airstrikes at the end of the humanitarian pause in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on December 1, 2023. 32 Palestinians were killed within 3 hours of the end of the humanitarian pause in Gaza." Jadallah's Instagram post showed that the photo had been taken for Anadolu Agency.

Getty Images also published multiple images clearly showing the baby held by the woman and the older man, crediting Jadallah and Anadolu Agency for the photos. We matched faces in the visuals shared by Aldirawi, Jadallah and Getty Images to the viral clips. Getty Images also identified the woman as the baby's mother and the older man as the grandfather. 

Photo website Alamy also carried images of the dead child. The images were attributed to Omar Ashtawy, a photojournalist working for APA Images. These photos also identified the baby as a 5-month-old Palestinian baby named Muhammad Hani Al-Zahar.

This is not the first time that it has been claimed that Palestinians are 'faking' death and using dolls. In October, Logically Facts debunked a similar claim where a man was actually carrying a child's body wrapped in a shroud. More than 6,600 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza since October 7, while thousands more are buried under rubble, an Al Jazeera report dated December 4 quoted the Palestinian government's media office as saying.

Claims trying to downplay civilian harm in Gaza by alleging that Palestinians are 'faking' injuries and deaths are part of the 'Pallywood' narrative— a combination of the words Palestine and Hollywood—spread by pro-Israeli social media accounts. Logically Facts' breaks down this narrative here.

The verdict

Visuals of a real baby who died during an Israeli airstrike are being shared with the claim that they show a doll and Palestinians 'faked' an infant's death. However, the videos show the mother and grandfather of the deceased child, who were mourning the latter's death.

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