Video does not show Palestinians pretending to be dead

7 November 2023
What was claimed

Palestinians are shown in a video pretending to have died in the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza.

Our verdict

False. This video shows a student protest in an Egyptian university, and was uploaded to YouTube in 2013.

A video circulating on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) showing a row of people lying under what appear to be shrouds, while occasionally moving, has been shared alongside captions suggesting these are Palestinians pretending to have died in the recent Israel-Gaza conflict.

However this footage is actually from a 2013 student protest in Cairo, Egypt.

In the video, the camera pans over multiple people lying in a row under what appear to be white shrouds, which have messages written on them in Arabic. Over the course of the video, multiple people can be seen to move under the shrouds. Someone off-camera removes the cloth from the face of a man who appears to laugh. 

The text of the video shared on Facebook says “Wake up world/They think you are fools! The masters of fake news/ Welcome the palestinians [sic] & their Hamas”, while the caption states “Dude, stop moving” and is accompanied by the hashtags “#standwithisrael”, “HamasisISIS” and “pallywood”. 

This latter phrase is a portmanteau of Palestine and Bollywood used by some to describe the alleged false staging of images or videos to portray Palestinian victimhood. Full Fact has written about this term before after it was included in several misleading posts online. 

This video was not taken recently, or in Gaza or the West Bank, and does not show Palestinians. 

The watermark in the top right corner of the video says ‘Al-Badil’ in Arabic, which was an Egyptian news service. The same video and watermark is evident in this original version of the video, which was uploaded to the organisation’s YouTube channel on 28 October 2013. 

The caption (translated with Google) says the video shows Muslim Brotherhood students at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. In October 2013, students at the university undertook multiple protests, demanding the reinstatement of Mohammed Morsi as President of Egypt after he was deposed by the military in July 2013. 

This video has been used multiple times to falsely claim that deaths are being staged in various conflicts: in 2016, the title of this video suggests the people are “victims” of “Russian bombings” faking their deaths; in 2017 and 2018 social media posts suggested this video showed apparent “Victims of [Syrian President] Assad’s chemical attack” or “living corpses in Syria after the poison gas attack”; and in 2021 it was claimed that the video showed Palestinians “posing” as “corpses”. 

This is not the first time Full Fact has seen videos falsely claiming to depict events associated with the Hamas-Israel conflict which began in October 2023. Other examples include footage which does not show an attack on the Israeli embassy in Bahrain and another video which claims to show scenes from Gaza but was actually filmed in Algiers. 

Misinformation spreads quickly during significant global events and can be difficult to contain. It is especially important to consider whether something shows what it claims before sharing it—you can read more about this in our guide Israel-Gaza conflict: How to fact check misleading videos.

Image courtesy of Hamada Elrasam for VOA.

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