Lies on Social Media Inflame Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

In a 28-second video, which was posted to Twitter this week by a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip appeared to launch rocket attacks at Israelis from densely populated civilian areas.

At least that is what Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, said the video portrayed. But his tweet with the footage, which was shared hundreds of times as the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis escalated, was not from Gaza. It was not even from this week.

Instead, the video that he shared, which can be found on many YouTube channels and other video-hosting sites, was from 2018. And according to captions on older versions of the video, it showed militants firing rockets not from Gaza but from Syria or Libya.

The video was just one piece of misinformation that has circulated on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media this week about the rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as Israeli military ground forces attacked Gaza early on Friday. The false information has included videos, photos and clips of text purported to be from government officials in the region, with posts baselessly claiming early this week that Israeli soldiers had invaded Gaza, or that Palestinian mobs were about to rampage through sleepy Israeli suburbs.

has removed several disinformation campaigns by Iran aimed at stoking tensions among Israelis and Palestinians. Twitter also took down a network of fake accounts in 2019 that was used to smear opponents of Mr. Netanyahu.

The grainy video that Mr. Gendelman shared on Twitter on Wednesday, which purportedly showed Palestinian militants launching rocket attacks at Israelis, was removed on Thursday after Twitter labeled it “misleading content.” Mr. Gendelman’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Gendelman appears to have mischaracterized the contents of other videos as well. On Tuesday, he posted a video on Twitter showing three adult men being instructed to lie down on the floor, with their bodies being arranged by a crowd nearby. Mr. Gendelman said the video showed Palestinians staging bodies for a photo opportunity.

Mr. Kovler, who traced the video back to its source, said the video had been posted in March to TikTok. Its accompanying text said the footage showed people practicing for a bomb drill.

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