Edited photo of Israeli soldiers holding ‘ISIS flag’ circulating online

13 March 2024
What was claimed

A photo shows Israeli soldiers holding an ISIS flag alongside the flag for Israel.

Our verdict

This photo has been altered. The original photo shows servicemen holding a flag for the Golani Brigade, which is a specific unit within the IDF.

A photo circulating online has been altered to show servicemen holding an ISIS flag alongside the flag for Israel. 

One post sharing the image has almost 7,000 shares and says “Israel is ISIS”, while another asks: “What is this?” 

But the original photo does not show the ISIS flag. It actually shows a yellow and green flag with visible Hebrew text that translates to ‘Golani Patrol’, according to Google. 

The Golani Brigade is an infantry unit within the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). While the unit’s symbol is an olive tree on a yellow background, the flag shown in the photo has the colours of the Israeli Infantry Corps flag and features what appears to be the ‘Sayeret Golani’ insignia. This refers to a battalion within the Golani Brigade, known as the Golani Reconnaissance Unit

The IDF posted the original photo to X (formerly Twitter) on 5 June 2023 with the caption (translated by Google): “A delegation of 12 fighters and commanders from the Golani patrol unit left yesterday for the ‘African 2023 Lion’ exercise led by the land arm that is taking place in Morocco.”

The Times of Israel reported that it was the first time the Israeli army sent a delegation to take active part in the African Lion exercise, and that a contingent of soldiers from the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion joined the final two weeks of the international drill.

The African Lion is an annual military exercise hosted across Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia run by US Africa Command, which is responsible for all US Department of Defense operations, exercises, and security cooperation in Africa. 

This is not the first time the photo has been altered to show a different flag. It previously circulated in October 2023 with the flag for the War Minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nazi Germany between 1935 and 1938, instead of the Golani flag.  

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is a terrorist organisation responsible for many attacks all over the world. In 2014, the group declared a caliphate after capturing large amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria, but by December 2017 it had lost 95% of its territory.

Full Fact has written about many other examples of edited content relating to the conflict in Israel and Gaza, including posts sharing a CNN video where the report’s audio was altered and several videos with mistranslated subtitles. 

You can read more of our work countering misinformation relating to recent events in the Middle East, as well as our guide to fact checking misleading images. 

Image courtesy of Israel Defense Forces 

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