Footage depicts Palestinian TV series set, not Rafah 'crisis actors'

As Israel sends tanks into Rafah, X accounts downplaying the civilian toll of the Israel-Hamas war are claiming a video shows Palestinians putting on makeup and preparing to fake their deaths. This is false; the clip is behind-the-scenes footage from a TV series. 

"WATCH: Rafah actors are preparing, and we may soon witness disturbing footage from Rafah," says a May 6, 2024 post from "Open Source Intel," an X account posing as an open-source investigator.

The video shows a man lying on a stretcher inside a graveyard as a woman applies makeup resembling blood to his chest and face. Another man sits upright in a body bag beside them.

Text over the video says: "Make-up Gaza Style."

Screenshot from X taken May 6, 2024

Similar posts framing the clip as Palestinians acting out their own deaths spread in various languages across X and other platforms. Many reference "Pallywood," a derogatory term blending the words "Palestine" with "Hollywood." 

Other posts have alternatively claimed the video shows Israelis pretending to be Gazan "crisis actors."

Israel sent tanks into Rafah on May 7, seizing control of the southern border crossing with Egypt one day after warning Palestinians in the area to evacuate ahead of a long-threatened operation.

International alarm has been building about the consequences of an Israeli ground invasion of the city, where the United Nations says 1.4 million people are sheltering as a result of the country's war with the militant group Hamas.

But the clip circulating online does not show Gazans in Rafah donning makeup and staging injuries ahead of the offensive.

Some X users said the clip appeared to show the set of "Nazeef Al-Turaab," or "Bleeding Dirt" -- a Palestinian TV series that premiered in March (archived here and here).

search for the director's YouTube channel surfaced the same video flipped horizontally and with an Arabic-language caption confirming it is backstage footage from "Bleeding Dirt" (archived here). The director posted it April 10.

The speakers in the behind-the-scenes clip talk about putting grass on the corner of one actor's mouth. They also joke that the body bag resembles the shoulder pads on dresses that a famous Lebanese singer wore decades ago.

The production's second episode, posted March 12 to YouTube, shows what appear to be the same graveyard set and actors -- including the man atop the stretcher and the other in the body bag (archived here).

Screenshot from X taken May 6, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP
Screenshot from YouTube taken May 6, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP

AFP has debunked numerous clips alleging to show Palestinian "crisis actors" since the start of the war, which was sparked by Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that left more than 1,170 people dead, including mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's air and ground campaign has killed at least 34,789 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

More reporting on misinformation about the war is available here.

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