No, photos of food markets in Gaza do not prove that there is no starvation

By: Naledi Mashishi
March 18 2024

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
No, photos of food markets in Gaza do not prove that there is no starvation

Instagram reel uses new and old footage to make misleading claim about Gaza's food security


The Verdict Misleading

The video uses a combination of old and new images to paint an inaccurate picture of the food supply in Gaza.

Claim ID ca3b4e84

What is the claim?

An Instagram reel posted on March 10, 2024, shows still images of what appear to be markets filled with fresh food in Gaza, claiming that there are no food shortages in the region.

Above the images are the words, "Gazans: 'Israel is starving us' Gaza markets 👇🏽." The video caption reads, "Not only are their markets filled with food, they are throwing food away because it came from Americans. This isn't starvation. This isn't a humanitarian crisis. This is Hamas propaganda."

The video does not specify where in Gaza the food markets are, but the implication is that the footage was taken recently. Similar claims have surfaced on X (formerly Twitter), denying starvation in Gaza because there are food markets selling goods. 

Posts on X from users claiming images of food markets disprove claims of starvation in Gaza. (Source: X/Screenshots)

The food market photos used in the video were all taken in Gaza, but the video paints a misleading picture. Recent reports on Gaza's food security reveal that food supplies have declined while prices have sharply increased.

Video includes old and recent footage 

A reverse image search on stills used in the video shows that at least one of the photos is from October 25, 2023. The original photo was taken in Al Nusairat market in central Gaza and depicts a selection of what appear to be vegetables in the foreground and a destroyed building in the background.

Two of the photos included in the video were taken from the Instagram page for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT). COGAT is an Israeli government agency that controls border movement between Gaza and Israel. The photos were posted on February 28, 2024, captioned, "Market scenes in Nuseirat, central Gaza. Today, Feb. 28."

Image from the reel and the original image posted on Instagram on October 25, 2023. (Source: Instagram/Screenshot/Markup by Logically Facts)

We were unable to independently verify these images by COGAT. However, other footage taken of the same area on the same day shows heavy smog and widespread destruction following earlier Israeli airstrikes. The smog-free conditions and intact infrastructure in the COGAT indicate that the photos may not have been taken on the same day.

Most of the images have a small yellow watermark in the right corner saying "Imshin." We were able to trace all these images to a video that was posted on X on March 1 by an account that reposts videos uploaded by Palestinians on other platforms with misleading and pro-Israel captions. The video shows a bustling market selling Ramadan decorations, food, and spices.

Image from Instagram reel with watermark circled and the account on X that uploaded the video. The watermark matches their handle on X. (Source: Instagram/X/Screenshots/Markup by Logically Facts)

We found a longer, original version of the video uploaded onto YouTube on March 1, 2024. The video features a family preparing for Ramadan, which runs from March 10 to 1 April.

Image from Instagram reel and the YouTube account that posted the original, longer footage. Source: Instagram/YouTube/Screenshots/Markup by Logically Facts)

We identified that the video was shot in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza using the signage of the store Sham Communications, which opened in June 2023. This means that the footage is most likely recent.

Still from the original YouTube video posted on March 1, 2024, and still from TikTok video posted on 11 June 2023. The shop signs (circled) match, indicating the YouTube footage is from Ramadan 2024. (Source: YouTube/TikTok/Screenshots/Markup by Logically Facts)

However, the end of the video, which shows the family with a few cans of food and links to a GoFundMe account, tells a more layered story. 

Intermittent food supplies at much higher prices 

A market report published by the World Food Programme (WFP) on February 2, 2024, paints a more nuanced picture of the food supply in Gaza. According to the report, the population of Gaza, particularly vulnerable populations like children and breastfeeding mothers, have been left "grappling with high prices, insufficient supplies, and challenging circumstances," and markets in Gaza have reported severe shortages of supplies.

Some markets have reported the availability of mainly vegetables and canned food, like those depicted in many of the images shown in the Instagram reel, but these are in short supply and last no longer than a week. Further, food prices have significantly increased. The Consumer Price Index for food and soft drinks has increased by 75.5 percent, diminishing the purchasing power of households. 

The conflict has placed more pressure on an already fragile food system. According to the U.N., at least 500,000 people in Gaza are facing famine, while nearly the entire population is facing acute food shortages. Humanitarian aid access is tightly controlled by Israel, which has resulted in food trucks experiencing severe delays at border crossings. Media outlets have reported that the number of food trucks entering Gaza has decreased from an average of 150 per day between January and September 2023 to 59 between October 7, 2023, and January 2024.

A UNICEF and WHO report published on February 19, 2024, indicates that food shortages in Northern Gaza are more severe than further south. Nutrition screenings found that 15.6 percent of children under 5 in Northern Gaza were "acutely malnourished," while 3 percent were suffering from severe wasting. Before the conflict, similar studies found just 0.8 percent of children in Gaza were acutely malnourished. The same report found that the severe food shortages and high prices meant that 95 percent of households reported limited food intake. 

"Such a decline in a population's nutritional status in three months is unprecedented globally," the report says. 

The verdict

A viral Instagram reel shows photos of food markets in Gaza to claim that there are currently no food shortages in Gaza. However, the reel uses a mix of old and new footage and footage that cannot be independently verified. Further, it paints an inaccurate and misleading picture of the food supply in Gaza.

Recent reports show that the food supply from humanitarian aid has decreased, and the prices of food and soft drinks, as well as the number of Gazans who are facing malnutrition, have sharply increased. We have therefore rated this claim as misleading. 

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

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