Old photo of pink dress on Turkey grave falsely linked to Gaza war

Heart-wrenching photos of a pink dress left on a grave have made the rounds in social media posts falsely linking them to the war in Gaza. While thousands of children have been killed in the conflict, the pictures were in fact taken in Turkey. The main photo has circulated online since at least April 2023, months before the outbreak of war in the Palestinian territory.

"A Palestinian father leaves Eid clothes on his daughter's grave (8 years old)," read a Facebook post that shared the photos on June 24.

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on July 4, 2024

The photos were shared thousands of times in similar Facebook and X posts, which surfaced after Muslims around the world celebrated the Eid holiday.

The festivities were clouded by the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The war broke out after Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom remain in Gaza including 42 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed more than 38,150 people in Gaza, including thousands of children, according to figures from the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

However, the photos shared online were taken in Turkey before the war. 

Turkey cemetery

Reverse image searches and keyword searches on Google found one of the photos in an X post from April 21, 2023 -- months before the outbreak of the Gaza war (archived link).

The Turkish-language post reads: "Zahide (8 years old) bought and left an Eid dress for her sibling this Eid. Some photos and memories stay like a paper cut scar in my life."

Screenshot of an X post that shared the photo in April 2023

Another reverse image search found a TikTok video posted two days later which appears to show the same cemetery and gives its location as Adiyaman in southeastern Turkey (archived link). 

Corresponding visual clues in the video shared in false posts and the TikTok video confirmed they show the same place. 

Screenshot comparison of the photo shared in false posts (left) and the TikTok video (right)

Turkey's Teyit Hatti, part of the state-run Anadolu news agency, reported that the photo was taken at Adiyaman's New Cemetery (archived link).

AFP confirmed this by comparing the photo to Google Maps satellite imagery of the cemetery (archived link).

Screenshot comparison between the falsely shared image (left) and Google Earth imagery (right), with corresponding elements highlighted by AFP

The cemetery was overwhelmed with dead after a huge 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey on February 6, 2023, The Financial Times reported (archived link).

The quake claimed more than 53,000 lives in Turkey and nearly 6,000 in neighbouring Syria.

In Adiyaman province, which was badly hit by the tremor, more than a third of buildings collapsed (archived link).

AFP could not independently verify if the grave in the photo belonged to a victim of the earthquake.

This story was amended to correct grammar in the first paragraph
July 8, 2024 This story was amended to correct grammar in the first paragraph

Is there content that you would like AFP to fact-check? Get in touch.

Contact us