The story uses only screenshots and not actual tweets to withhold the identity of the children involved.
A collage of three photos depicting a shell-shocked girl covered in debris being rescued by three different persons has gone viral on social media. In the first picture, the young girl is being carried by a man wearing a white helmet, in the second picture, she is held by a man in a yellow t-shirt and in the third, by a man wearing a green check shirt and a pair of spectacles. Several social media users shared the picture claiming or indirectly suggesting that the young Palestinian girl and the three rescuers were paid actors in a staged scene since the same girl could not be rescued thrice by three different persons.
Though not entirely visible, it is clear that in the first picture, the rescuer is carrying two children in his arms.
A verified handle on X (formerly Twitter), Squint Neon (@TheSquind), posted the picture with the caption, “This Palestinian girl is saved by 3 different people from 3 different locations on 3 different days and all locations are 50 KM apart from each other. Wondering why she keeps travelling so far especially in the conflict zone?” The tweet has received over 2,37,400 views, 10,000 likes and 3,700 retweets. (Archive)
Verified X user Eminent Woke (@WokePandemic) also shared the post, stating, “Almighty Allah Is great This girl was saved from three different locations by three different people. Maarne Wale se bachane wala bada hai Ameen.” The tweet has over 12,600 views, 823 likes and 347 retweets. (Archive)
Another verified X user, हम लोग We The People (@ajaychauhan41), has shared the montage with the caption, “इस फ़िलिस्तीनी लड़की को 3 अलग-अलग स्थानों से 3 अलग-अलग लोगों ने 3 अलग-अलग दिनों में बचाया और सभी स्थान एक दूसरे से 50 किमी दूर हैं। आश्चर्य है कि वह विशेष रूप से संघर्ष क्षेत्र में इतनी दूर यात्रा क्यों करती रहती है?”. The tweet has received over 8,145 views, 728 likes and 531 retweets. (Archive)
Several verified accounts on X, including World of Ranking (@RankingRevolve), Nakba (@VictorNakba), Sanatani (@sanatani_kiran), יבגני זרובינסקי (@ivgiz) amplified the claim. (Archives: 1, 2, 3, 4) The post is also viral on Facebook.
First, we separately reverse-searched each of the three images on Google. This led us to several 2016 reports by various media outlets that featured the images used in the viral collage. The three images are of the same incident from 2016 when there was an explosion at a funeral gathering in Aleppo, Syria.
A 2016 report by The Sun, titled, ‘DEATH FROM ABOVE Pro-Assad choppers drop cruel barrel bombs on Syrian WAKE held for children killed in Aleppo‘ featured the first image that depicted the young girl being held by a man wearing a white helmet. The picture was captioned, “Rescuer carries tots away from collapsed building after devastating attack. Credit: GETTY IMAGES”
The report states, “Pro-Assad pilots have dropped cruel barrel bombs near where the families of eleven children killed in an earlier attack were grieving. At least 15 civilians were killed in the strike on a part of rebel-held Aleppo in northern Syria.”
Another 2016 report by The Washington Post titled “Airstrike in east Aleppo hits funeral” featured a image of the girl and the man in a white helmet with the caption, ‘Syrian civilians and a rescue worker evacuate children in eastern Aleppo after regime aircraft reportedly dropped barrel bombs on Aug. 27. (Ameer Alhalbi/AFP/Getty Images). The image shows the rescuer handing over the girl to another man even as he carries a young boy with his right hand.
A comparison between the image used by The Washington Post and two of the viral pictures reveals that the white helmet rescuer is the man in the first photo in the viral collage and the man to whom he hands over the girl is the man in the third photo of the viral collage.
Taken together, the photos used in The Sun and The Washington Post clearly establish a chronology. The rescuer in a white helmet was initially carrying two children in his arms. Later, he hands over the girl to the bespectacled man in a green check shirt.
A 2016 report by NBC News, featured the second image depicting the young girl being held by a man wearing a yellow t-shirt with the photo caption, “
Another report of the same incident was published by AoI. which featured the third image in the viral collage. The featured image carried the caption, “SYRIA-CONFLICT, Photo credit: Getty”.
Taking a cue from the source cited by the above-mentioned media outlets, we searched the three images on Getty Images which further confirmed that the images were clicked by photo-journalist Ameer Alhalbi in Aleppo, Syria back in 2016. (Images: 1, 2, 3)
When Alt News reached out to Ameer Alhalbi, he shared an AFP video with us, where he explained, “There was a first bombing and five minutes later, there was a second bombing. I was taking photos and in a situation like this there is more than one building that has been completely destroyed. There are many people who help the White Helmets to get the victims out and sometimes it’s complicated. The car has come to take them, these injured people to the hospital, but can not go all the way to meet them. So, there are people who will pass the child to someone, who will pass the child to the next person. Really, it’s just the fastest way to help as much as possible.” White Helmets is a humanitarian organisation in Syria.
Alt News also noted that the photo collage was previously viral with other false claims.
To sum up, the collage depicting a shell-shocked girl covered in debris being rescued by three different people is not a staged act by Palestinians to deceive the public. Our fact-check revealed that the three images were taken in eastern Aleppo, Syria, on August 27, 2016, one after the other. They show the same girl being passed on from one man to the next to expedite the process of rescue and rehabilitation.
The readers should note that the amplification of such images can be seen as part of a larger effort by pro-Israel influencers and social media users to call into question Palestine’s claims of the human cost of the war on their side. The official X handles of the state of Israel and its associated offices were previously found trying to pass off footage of a dead 4-year-old child from Gaza as a ‘doll’. More recently, Israel mocked a survivor of a July invasion by its forces of a refugee camp in West Bank by calling him an ‘actor’. In yet another instance, a Halloween image from Thailand was used by pro-Israel users to claim it was a ‘fake war victim’ from Gaza pretending to be dead.
Abira Das is an intern at Alt News.
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.