Old photos do not show 'Palestinian Christians celebrating Hamas victory' in October 2023

  • Published on November 3, 2023 at 05:46
  • Updated on November 3, 2023 at 07:48
  • 4 min read
  • By AFP Sri Lanka
Thousands of people have been killed on both sides of the war between Israel and Hamas, which began after the Islamist militants carried out the deadliest attack in Israel's history on October 7. A series of photos shared on social media, however, does not show Palestinian Christians "celebrating the recent victories of Hamas". The photos have in fact circulated since at least 2019.

"Palestinian Christians celebrating the recent victories of Hamas!" reads a Facebook post written in Tamil.

The post shows four photos of people holding up Palestinian flags.

The post was shared on October 8, one day after Hamas militants stormed into southern Israel from Gaza in an attack that Israeli officials say killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

Israel retaliated to the attack -- the worst in its history -- with a relentless bombardment of Gaza, which has killed more than 9,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory.

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Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, captured on October 27, 2023

Some of the photos were shared in similar Facebook posts that falsely linked them to the Israel-Hamas war, including here, here and here.

Old photos

Reverse image searches on Google show the photos in the posts have circulated online since at least 2019.

According to the Alamy photo agency, the picture appearing to show two nuns, with one holding up a Palestinian scarf, was taken in 2014 (archived link).

The photo caption reads: "A Catholic nun holds a scarf that reads, 'PALESTINE' before the holy mass led by Pope Francis in Manger Square in Bethlehem, West Bank, May 25, 2014. Pope Francis is on a three day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which includes Jordan, Bethlehem and Israel."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo used in the misleading post (left) and the Alamy photo from 2014 (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the photo used in the misleading post (left) and the Alamy photo from 2014 (right)

The photo appearing to show two priests surrounded by people waving Palestinian flags was published in a report from 2015 (archived link).

The article by Palestinian news outlet the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) reported on a protest rally held by Palestinian Christians in Bayt Jala in the occupied West Bank on August 30, 2015 that was reportedly attacked by Israeli forces.

The photo does not have a caption and is uncredited.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (left) and the photo used in the IMEMC article (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the photo used in the misleading post (left) and the photo used in the IMEMC article (right)

The third image, showing a priest holding a Palestinian flag, was taken by AFP photographer Abbas Momani on April 20, 2018.

The caption of the photo, which is available in AFP's archives, says: "Father Abdullah Yulio, parish priest of the Melkite Greek Catholic church in Ramallah, holds a Palestinian flag while taking part in a demonstration near the Israeli settlement of Beit El in the Israeli occupied West Bank, on April 20, 2018."

Below is a screenshot comparison between the photo used in the misleading post (left) and the AFP photo (right):

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Screenshot comparison between the photo used in the misleading post (left) and the AFP photo (right)

The fourth photo showing a man holding a Palestinian flag and a cross was published in an article by the Wisconsin Muslim Journal on July 2, 2019 (archived link).

The photograph is attributed to Afif Amira from Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (left) and the photo published in 2019 (right):

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Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading post (left) and the photo published in 2019 (right)

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