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Israel-Palestine conflict: Social media warnings as ‘manipulated’ photos and videos of Gaza violence go viral

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Misinformation on Gaza is spreading on social media, threatening to exacerbate the violence between Hamas and Israel’s military forces.

A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was guilty of sharing a video from years ago, Sky News reports.

Twitter placed a “media manipulation” warning on a now deleted tweet by Ofir Gendelman that was shared with his 97,000 followers, featuring a 28-second video that claimed to show Hamas firing rockets towards Israel during the latest round of violence .

He used the video as evidence of a “war crime” on their side.

The video he shared can be found on YouTube channels from 2018, with some videos saying it showed militants firing rockets not from from Syria or Libya, not Gaza.

Mr Gendelman’s tweet was posted on Tuesday morning and was written in Arabic. It said: “Here’s more clear evidence that terrorist militia Hamas deliberately fires rockets from inside residential neighbourhoods in Gaza. This is a terrible war crime.

“A third of rockets fired at Israel fall inside Gaza killing civilians and children.”

Twitter uses the ‘media manipulation’ sticker for when the “media or the context in which that media is presented are significantly and deceptively altered or manipulated”.

WhatsApp has also become a key source of misinformation. This week a false claim that Palestinian mobs were going to attack Israeli citizens spread through audio files, or as a block of Hebrew text, The New York Times found.

“Palestinians are coming, parents protect your children,” the message said, and circulated across Telegram as well as several WhatsApp groups.

Several Twitter accounts shared a video claiming that Palestinians are staging fake funerals in Gaza to attract sympathy, AFP reports.

A video viewed more than 140,000 times, shows a group of people carrying a body on a stretcher, but upon hearing sirens – drop it and run away. The person on the stretcher then gets up and walks away.

The video’s caption reads: “Today in Gaza, the Palestinians pretended to be at a funeral and photographed it so that they would feel sorry for them. But then an alarm sounded … oops #israel #IsraelUnderFire #IsraelUnderAttack.”

But the original video can be traced back to March of this year, and is though to show a group of young people attempting to break a Covid-19 lockdown in Jordan.

It comes as social media companies face criticism for their role in silencing the Palestinian side of the conflict.

Palestinian digital rights activists expressed concerns after Instagram took down posts highlighting the eviction of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, while Twitter suspended accounts related to the flash point, Reuters reported.

On Monday, 7amleh, a nonprofit focused on social media, received more than 200 complaints about deleted posts and suspended accounts related to Sheikh Jarrah.

Instagram and Twitter said the accounts were “suspended in error by our automated systems” and the issue had been resolved and content reinstated, but 7amleh is calling for more transparency on why these issues happen.

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