Image of Israeli Prime Minister on ventilator is fake

8 April 2024
What was claimed

An image shows Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a ventilator in a hospital bed.

Our verdict

The image isn’t real. It has almost certainly been generated using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

An image supposedly showing Benjamin Netanyahu on a ventilator in a hospital bed was almost certainly created using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The picture of the Israeli prime minister has been shared across Facebook and Instagram, and over 13,000 times on X (formerly known as Twitter) in recent days. 

Some social media users sharing the image imply it shows Mr Netanyahu in a “critical condition”, or that it shows him prior to having surgery

Mr Netanyahu did undergo surgery at the end of March to treat a hernia, and was discharged on 2 April.

However, the image claiming to show him breathing through a ventilator is not genuine. It has been circulating since at least November 2023, when it was shared widely on TikTok with false claims that it showed Mr Netanyahu in intensive care.

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Where does the image come from?

Several details in the picture indicate it was likely generated using AI tools.

There is a visual glitch in the top half of the image where the sheets and pillow feature an unnaturally straight line and two wires disappear abruptly and do not connect.

Although the man in the bed resembles Mr Netanyahu, this image also differs from other recent pictures and footage of him.

Crucially the shape of the left ear in the image does not match real photographs of Mr Netanyahu. 

We’ve written about how AI struggles to fake ears as they are so specific to the person. Side-by-side comparisons can often show something is an AI creation even when the rest of the image appears realistic.

Full Fact has debunked other AI images, and probable deepfake videos and audio of politicians, including of French President Emmanuel Macron, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Labour’s leader Keir Starmer and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Image courtesy of World Economic Forum, Jolanda Flubacher

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