‘Dead Gazan body miraculously texting’ is actually Thai child in Halloween costume

31 October 2023
What was claimed

A picture has been taken in Gaza of a child wearing a body bag having pretended to be dead.

Our verdict

False. The photo is of a child in a costume at a Halloween competition in Thailand in 2022.

Multiple images shared on social media appear to show a child wearing a body bag using a phone, with captions falsely suggesting the person is in Gaza and has been pretending to be dead for the cameras. 

Posts sharing the photo make claims such as: “One of the Gazans killed brutally by #Israel is texting from another world. #Gaza in need of actors”. Another claims the picture shows “a ‘dead’ Gazan body miraculously texting”.

But the image was not taken recently, or in Gaza. The first example we could find of the image was posted on Facebook in October 2022 by a mother who dressed her children up for a Halloween costume contest in Thailand. Other images of the child show them in their full costume, including a cardboard coffin. The post has over 21,000 shares.

The pictures were published by multiple Thai-language outlets, which describe (translated by Google) that the child in the white shroud did not place in the competition, but that their sibling came third.

Some of the posts claiming the picture shows a Gazan “actor” mention the word “Pallywood” or “Palliwood”. This is a portmanteau of Palestine and Bollywood, first coined over a decade ago by historian Richard Landes to describe what he claims as the “staging of scenes by Palestinian journalists in order to present the Palestinians as hapless victims of Israeli aggression”.

The term has recently seen a resurgence online to caption videos often incorrectly claiming to show a concerted effort by those in Gaza to fake images of harm to civilians as part of the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza. We’ve seen such captions on AI-generated images of people in Gaza, miscaptioned photos from other places, or videos falsely claiming to show actors pretending to be dead or injured. 

It’s not always clear how these images came to be misrepresented, who was responsible and whether this was done on purpose rather than inadvertently.

It’s important to check that content is genuine before sharing it. We’ve written guides on how to spot misleading images and videos.

Image courtesy of David Menidrey

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