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France 24
France 24

These photos of Israelis mistreating Palestinian children aren’t from the latest conflict

Two photos and a video said to show Israelis mistreating Palestinian children in 2023 are actually from previous conflicts. © Observers

More than 6,000 Palestinian children are thought to have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas so far, according to numbers released by Hamas.  It’s in this context that photos and videos have started circulating online that people say show Israelis mistreating Palestinian children. However, while violence against children is indeed occurring, three of these images are not linked to the current conflict. 

 If you only have a minute

  • A million children have been impacted by Israel’s military and bombing campaign on Gaza. In this context, two photos and a video have been circulating online that show Israelis mistreating young Palestinians. However, it turns out that these photos are several years old and were not filmed in the recent conflict. 
  • One photo apparently shows the Israeli army using a Palestinian child as a human shield in recent fighting. In reality, the photo has been around since at least 2010 and may have been taken well before that. 
  • Another video is said to show an Israeli car hitting several Palestinian children and driving off. It is real, but it was filmed in 2010. 
  • A video has also been circulating online that some claim shows the Israeli Border Police taking a three-year-old Palestinian child hostage.  This footage, while real, was taken five years ago.

The fact-check, in detail

“Today, the Gaza Strip is once again the most dangerous place in the world to be a child,” wrote Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF in a statement released on December 1 calling for a lasting humanitarian ceasefire. 

More than 17,000 Palestinians had been killed in this conflict by December 8, more than 6,600 of those children, according to the Hamas ministry of health. In total, a million children in the Gaza Strip have been affected by the war, according to UNICEF.

It is undeniable that the recent conflict has had a devastating impact on Palestinian children. However, social media users have been sharing two photos and a video that they say offer proof of recent atrocities. In reality, these images are old and do not show the recent conflict.

A child used as a human shield?

A number of posts claim that Israel has been caught using young Palestinians as “human shields” (one example is this X post, which has been shared more than 80,000 times). The post includes two images showing an Israeli soldier getting ready to fire his gun with a child tied up and blindfolded at his feet. 

This is a screengrab of a post from December 4 on X that claims to show a child being used as a “human shield” in the war between Israel and Hamas in 2023. In reality, the image is from a number of years ago. © Observers

Our team ran these two images through a reverse image search and discovered that one was posted online as early as 2008 when it was shared by the Israeli human rights association B’Tselem. The post provided no additional context for the picture. 

Did an Israeli car hit young Palestinians? 

A video, shared more than 15,000 times, shows what appears to be an Israeli car hitting two Palestinian children and then driving off. The post doesn’t provide any context, making it seem like it is recent. 

The footage shows children carrying rocks running towards a car, which hits two of them. The car then drives off as people continue to hurl rocks at it. One of the children, a boy, remains on the ground though he seems to be sitting up. The video then shows people loading the boy into the back of a vehicle in a chaotic scene. 

This is a screengrab of a post from December 4, 2023, featuring the video. © Observers

While the video is real, it wasn’t filmed during the current conflict. It was posted on YouTube by American press agency the Associated Press. The caption says that it was filmed on October 8, 2015 in the Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.

“Car, reportedly driven by an Israeli, approaches, Palestinian boys move towards car with hands holding stones raised as if about to throw stones, car collides with boys hitting one boy on the side and another full on with front of car. Car then keeps driving down away as other boys chase and throw stones at it, breaking windows,” reads the description of the video, which is written as notes rather than full sentences.

This is an Associated Press video from 2015. © Observers

The press agency also provides context for the video, stating that things had become tense after the Israeli army killed “two important members of Hamas” earlier that day during a raid in the West Bank, according to both the Israeli army and Hamas. 

This article from US media outlet CBS News says that the car was driven by Jewish extremist David Be’eri, who runs an organisation called Elad dedicated to moving Jewish people into Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. 

An article by CNN included a quote from Be’eri, which he apparently gave to a news outlet referred to as Channel Two TV.

"When I was attacked I wanted to drive 'reverse,' but the car behind me blocked me," Be'eri is quoted as saying. 

The article also says that the two Palestinian boys were treated in a hospital. One of them had a broken leg. 

After this incident, a court in Jerusalem sentenced three Palestinian boys accused of throwing stones to two weeks of house arrest. 

Did the Israeli army take a three-year-old child hostage?

Other posts claimed that the Israeli army took a three-year-old Palestinian child hostage. That’s the claim made by this tweet posted on December 3, 2023 and shared more than 50,000 times. 

These tweets refer to a video that has the logo of British media outlet Middle East Eye in the top right.

"Israeli officers are detaining this 3-year-old Palestinian boy after claiming he was ‘sent to throw stones,’” reads text on the video. “The child was detained for a few minutes in Hebron on Tuesday… Border police say the boy was sent to throw stones at the officers and ran at officers with a screwdriver and peeler in his hands. The police have said it was a ‘planned provocation.’”

Screengrab of a tweet on X from December 3. © Observers

However, once again, this is an old video, according to our fact-checking colleagues at Politifact.

If you type the words used in the text in the video into Google or another search engine, (“Border Police officers detained a three-year-old Palestinian boy for a few minutes in Hebron on Tuesday”), then you’ll find an article by the Israeli media outlet Haaretz published on March 28, 2018.

The article contains the same video that was shared recently as well as security footage shared by the police that shows the boy approaching the soldiers before one of them takes hold of his arm. 

Article from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. © Observers

The article further says that the Border Police called the incident “a provocation that does not reflect the situation and was intended to paint the security forces in a bad light".

“The video is cut and edited. This was a young boy who was sent to throw stones at Border Police officers and with a screwdriver in his hand for ‘a stabbing attempt,’ and with his relatives watching him from a distance,” said the police spokesman.

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