Old photo of worshippers detained at mosque misleadingly linked to Israel police raid in 2023

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A photo of men lying on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs has been shared repeatedly in social media posts misleadingly claiming it shows a police raid at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque in April 2023. However, the photo has previously circulated in reports about a similar incident at the mosque one year before.

"Al-Aqsa is not in good shape," reads a Bengali-language Facebook post shared on April 7.

Global criticism and concern mounted after Israeli police clashed with Palestinians on April 5 inside the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third-holiest site, sparking a military exchange of rockets and air strikes.

Armed police in riot gear stormed the prayer hall of the mosque before dawn, aiming to dislodge "law-breaking youths and masked agitators" they said had barricaded themselves inside.

A barrage of rocks and fireworks met the officers, police video showed, and more than 350 people were arrested.

The Facebook post adds: "The cruelty of the tyrants is increasing in the first Qibla of Muslims, Al-Aqsa. Oh God, save the Palestinians."

Qibla is the direction in which Muslims pray, towards the Kaaba which they consider holy in Saudi Arabia's Mecca. The Qibla was previously considered to be the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on April 12, 2023

The photo was shared alongside a similar claim here, here and here.

However, the photo has been shared in a misleading context.

While Al Jazeera quoted a worshipper saying detainees laid on the ground with their hands behind their backs during the Israeli police raid, the photo was taken almost one year previously.

Reverse image searches and keyword searches found the photo in a post about an Israeli police raid on Al-Aqsa mosque in April 2022.

"Hands and feet handcuffed with cable ties in the middle of a mosque by the most democratic army in the world... This is what life is like for Palestinians praying peacefully during the holy month of Ramadan!" reads the French-language tweet from April 22, 2022 posted by Ramy Abdu from the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

Danish newspaper Dagbladet Arbejderen published the photo in an article on April 29, 2022, saying it showed Palestinians lying on the floor of the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading Facebook posts (left) and the photo published in 2022 by the Danish newspaper (right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading Facebook posts (left) and the photo published in 2022 by the Danish newspaper (right).

Jerusalem-based news outlet Al Qastal posted a video on April 15, 2022 which shows the scene in the photo.

Al Qasal's Arabic tweet reads: "Press coverage: The occupation forces restrict those who were inside the Qibli Chapel (inside Al-Aqsa Mosque) and severely beat them".

There were reports of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers at the mosque on April 15 and April 22, 2022.