A video of an intubated man on a hospital bed is viral on social media amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Several users claim that the man is an actor playing a Palestinian victim. Israel’s official X (formerly Twitter) handle shared the aforementioned video on October 26 in a thread. The first tweet of the thread consisted of a video of a man walking down the streets of Gaza, singing and celebrating Hamas’ strike on Israel. It was shared with the following caption:
“🧵Fake news alert
The devil works hard but Gaza’s film industry works harder. Meet Saleh, terrorism supporter, singer and “actor”. You may have seen Saleh a lot recently because he has miraculously been EVERYWHERE. 📽️Saleh celebrating Hamas rocket launches at Israel.”
The next tweet in the thread carried the viral video of the ‘patient’. It had the following caption:
“Here’s another video of this star on his deathbed a couple days later after an alleged air strike. Notice anything strange about the machines behind him? MOST OF THE MACHINES ARE DISCONNECTED AND THE ONES WHICH ARE HAVE FAKE STATS.” (Archive 1, 2)
The thread was subsequently deleted.
X Blue user Oli London shared the same video on October 25 calling the man on the hospital bed an actor pretending to be a victim of an Israeli airstrike. The tweet has received over 4.3 million views and has been retweeted over 13,000 times. (Archive)
Hamas Crisis Actor pretends to be a victim of an Israeli air strike- appearing in a hospital bed while pretending to be in a critical condition as two supporting actors hold his hand.
In reality, the man is a Hamas musician and actor who has been appearing in various videos for… pic.twitter.com/PQmPipAC3R
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) October 25, 2023
Another X Blue user, @EndWokeness, posted the viral video along with a compilation of three other videos where a man can be seen wearing a military outfit with the emblem of Palestinian flag on his arm. He is seen celebrating Hamas’ attack on Israel and crying when Israel’s airstrike hit Gaza. The user shared the videos with the following caption: “Hamas crisis actor is back again”. The tweet received over 18 million views and has been retweeted over 13,000 times. (Archive)
Hamas crisis actor is back again pic.twitter.com/e7kNcD0ZMx
— End Wokeness (@EndWokeness) October 25, 2023
Several other Indian and International X users such as @MeghUpdates, @MrSinha_, @Imamofpeace, @benaym, @DrEliDavid, @noam1906, @gaursatyam01, @karimGahin1, @SrLiberal, @TheDeadDistrict, @RadioGenoa, @jtimes24farsi and Israeli media outlet ISRAELLYCOOL also shared the viral video with a similar claim.
We noticed that the videos of the man whom the ‘patient’ was being compared to had a text in the video frame, seemingly the man’s name, that read, ‘Saleh Aljafarawi’. We ran a Google search on this text that led us to the Instagram account with the same name. We found several of the videos shared by social media users on this Instagram page (Examples 1, 2, 3). Saleh has been sharing visuals from Gaza on his Instagram page. His Instagram bio too has a mention of Gaza. He also has a YouTube channel where he shares his music videos. In the ‘About’ section, he mentions that he is a 25-year-old Palestinian living in Gaza.
After breaking down the viral video into several keyframes, we ran a reverse image search on some of them. We found that TikTok user @hamodahmdan1 had shared the now-viral video on August 19, 2023. Hence, it is clear that the viral video is not recent. Among the hashtags written in Arabic under the TikTok video, one said “Nour Shams Camp”. Nur Shams is a refugee camp for Palestinians in the northern part of West Bank. West Bank and Gaza Strip are Palestinian territories separated by Israeli land. At present, Israel claims to be targeting the Gaza Strip in order to retaliate against the strikes made by Hamas, which operates from that region.
Taking a cue from the above we ran a relevant keyword search that led us to a news report by the International Solidarity Movement from August 25 of this year. The report carried the image of the man in the viral video and mentioned that 16-year-old Mohammed Zendiq had lost his leg during an invasion by Israeli forces of the Nur Shams refugee camp on July 24. Zendiq was then admitted to an Israeli hospital and released on August 21.
A keyword search with date filter led us to several news reports that mentioned that the raid had left several Palestinians in the Nur Shams refugee camp injured.
We noticed several similarities between the image carried by International Solidarity Movement and the viral video such as the equipment (infusion pumps) in the hospital room and patterns on the bed sheet. These have been highlighted below:
We reached out to journalist Younis Tirawi reporting on the Israel-Hamas war from the ground. Tirawi confirmed to us that the survivor’s name was Saeed Zandek. He was injured in the incident in West Bank in August. He also shared with us the TikTok profile of the survivor’s brother, which has the user name ‘@esam_zandek’. On this profile, we found more videos of Saeed in the hospital, all from August, and one where he could be seen in a wheelchair as he lost one of his legs.
We also found an image of Saeed with Esam seemingly walking out of the hospital after Saeed’s release. Esam could be seen wearing a T-shirt similar to the one in the viral video.
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the faces of the 16-year-old survivor, Saeed Zandek, and the Instagram vlogger, Saleh Aljafarawi. The readers can clearly see they are not the same person:
Therefore, the claim by Israel’s official X handle and several other social media users that Saleh is the man in the viral video pretending to be struggling on a hospital bed is false. The video is from July-August 2023 and shows Saeed Zandek who was injured during an Israeli raid on Nur Shams refugee camp.
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people start contributing towards the same. Please consider donating towards this endeavour to fight fake news and misinformation.