Pro-Israeli accounts are accusing Palestinians of using crisis actors to fake their suffering in order to elicit online sympathy. One particular viral video turned out to be of a real amputee who survived a West Bank refugee camp raid in July 2023.
As the Israeli military embarks on a ground assault in Gaza, multiple social media users are claiming Gazans are staging their suffering and even faking injuries and death.
One viral video was shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Hananya Naftali, a former member of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s communications and social media team.
On the left, the clip presented as filmed "today" showing a man walking through rubble, and on the other side is another video claimed to have been filmed "yesterday", where a man with a similar appearance is in the hospital with an amputated leg.
"Palestinian blogger “miraculously” healed in one day from "Israeli bombing". Yesterday, he was “hospitalised,” today, he is walking and walking as if nothing happened," commented Hananya Naftali.
Naftali and others are implying Gazans are faking injuries in order to elicit sympathy from Internet users and the international community – dubbing it ‘Pallywood.'
The expression isn’t new and was coined back in the early 2000s. It’s a mix of the words ‘Palestine’ and ‘Hollywood’ and is used as a derogatory term by people who believe Palestinians are using crisis actors and victimising themselves.
The clips don't show the same person
However, by doing a reverse image search, The Cube found the original video of the man walking through rubble was published on the 26th of October 2023.
The man in the viral clip is Saleh Aljafarawim who posts numerous videos of the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Looking through his Instagram account, we found no images of him in a hospital.
The second video of the man in the hospital bed was actually published on TikTok in August 2023, nearly two months before Hamas orchestrated the 7 October attack on Israel. It is therefore unrelated to the ongoing conflict.
Another video identifies him as a Palestinian youth from the Nour Shams camp, located in the West Bank, approximately 100 kilometres from Gaza.
According to Alt News, an Indian fact-checking website, other videos of the same man in a hospital bed show he is in an Israeli hospital, identifiable by the country's flags in the background.
We found other videos shared in October 2023 of the same young amputee, claiming his name is Mohammad Zendeq. In the video above, the youth seems to have left the hospital.
An article from the English-speaking pro-Palestinian site Palsolidarity published an article, as well as an identical picture, of the same young man in a hospital bed on the 25 August 2023.
According to the article, a 16-year-old teenager called Mohammed Zendiq - very close to the Mohammad Zendeq tagged in the TikTok above - lost his leg on 24 July 2023, “during the invasion of the Nour Shams refugee camp, near Tulkarem, by Israeli occupation forces”.
The young man, holder of an Israeli identity card, was visiting his father in the Nur Shams camp and was in the street when he felt an explosion.
The teenager was then “rushed to an Israeli hospital where his right leg was amputated just above the knee.” He was treated in the hospital for a month and was released on 21 August 2023.
This means the young man in the hospital bed is not the same as the man seen walking through the rubble and can’t be used as proof Palestinians are staging injuries or death to gain sympathy from the international community.