Could a photograph posted on Facebook and other social media alleging to show an Israeli soldier brutally pointing his weapon at and placing his foot on the chest of a little Palestinian girl be a fake? After some digging, it would seem so. In fact, this new case of bias against the Jewish state even has some bloggers dubbing it “fauxtography.”
The photo, uploaded by a Facebook user named Wesley Muahammad, shows a uniform-clad soldier, his face out of frame, pressing a boot to the stomach of a helpless girl lying on the floor while pointing an AK-47 rifle at her face.
Soon after the picture began circling the social network, Facebook users began refuting its authenticity. Many posted the photograph again, explaining that the caption claiming the soldier was Israeli had to be false because his uniform was not that of the IDF's, nor does the Israeli army regularly use AK-47s.
"Don't believe everything you see on the Internet," wrote blogger Omar Dakhane, who uploaded a wider framed version of the image, showing a crowd surrounding the soldier and the girl. "This picture was taken in Bahrain 2009 during a street theater."
A multitude of websites have posted the photo and presented it as authentic including: Australians for Palestine, Palestinian Libra, and a boycott Israel (BDS) website
A pro-Israel blogger tracked down the original photos which show a wider shot of the scene of the street theater performance.
That blogger linked to an Israeli site Tazpit which discussed the photo in June after seeing it posted on the Facebook group called "Freedom Will come to Palestine." The photo prompted comments condemning Israel including, "Disgusting! Hope the Israelis rot in hell!!" Tazpit wrote:
The soldier in the photo appears to be holding a Kalashnikov AK47 which is not used by the Israeli army, but used often by the Palestinian police forces and terror organizations. The IDF is known for using M16 and M4 weapons, and its uniforms are different from the soldier's uniform that appears on the photo.
Tazpit quoted an Israeli government spokesman who said:
"Unfortunately, the use of such photos is a known method, trying to harm Israel's image on the internet and is part of the social networks war of information".
The use of fake photographs to score PR points in the Arab-Israeli conflict was highlighted after blogger Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs discovered a Reuters photographer in Lebanon had used Photoshop to digitally alter two pictures during the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006. That photographer was fired and Reuters’ Middle East chief photographer was replaced.
Some pro-Israel media watchdogs coined the phenomenon of attempted media manipulation "Pallywood" combining the words "Palestinian" and "Hollywood." An Israeli blog poking fun at the issue posted some photoshopped versions of the little girl and soldier, including this tribute to Avatar: