Social media accounts purposely trying to sow confusion and spread disinformation capitalized on yesterday’s reports that 500 people were killed in a blast that struck the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza.
Hamas and Israel have traded blame, with Palestinian officials attributing the tragedy to an Israeli airstrike, while Israeli officials blamed a misfired rocket from Islamic Jihad militants within Gaza.
“I can confirm that following an analysis of the IDF operational systems indicates that a barrage of rockets was fired by terrorists in Gaza, passing in close proximity to the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza at the time it was hit,” IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a video statement Tuesday.
Amid early conflicting reports and a lack of verified information, actors online seized the opportunity to deepen the confusion.
One account on X, purporting to be an Al Jazeera journalist by the name Farida Khan, wrote: “I am Al Jazeera Journalist Farida Khan working in Khan Younis, Gaza. I saw with my own eyes that it was Hamas ‘Ayyash 250’ Rocket. It was Hamas misfired Rocket. Al Jazeera is lying. I have video of that Hamas missile landing in the hospita [sic].”
There is no Al Jazeera journalist by the name of Farida Khan and older posts on the account were not about news.
Al Jazeera’s public relations account confirmed that Khan was not an employee.
“Disclaimer: The X / Twitter account @_Faridakhan falsely claims Al Jazeera affiliation,” the public relations team said. “We want to clarify: This account has no ties to Al Jazeera, its views, or content. Exercise caution, verify information prior to publishing.”
Despite Khan’s credibility quickly being debunked, the initial post was reshared more than a thousand times—and screenshots continuing to purport it to be true remain on many accounts.
For example, Secure America Now—a nonprofit group focused on national security—shared Khan’s message on Tuesday. It remains up at the time of writing.
But the fake Al Jazeera account was not the only misinformation campaign to be widely shared in the wake of the hospital blast.
A Facebook account purporting to be the official Israeli Defense Forces’ Arabic language account wrote on Tuesday that “due to the lack of medical equipment and the lack of medical staff, it was decided to bomb the Baptist Hospital in Gaza and give them euthanasia death.”
The Facebook profile said its email address was “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“This ‘IDF in Arabic’ Facebook post, now deleted, was widely shared after the tragic scenes at Gaza’s al-Ahli hospital,” said BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh. “But that’s not the official IDF Facebook page in Arabic, run by Avichay Adraee.”
Some users on social media are still circulating screenshots of the post.
“Right before Israel bombed the hell out of the Baptist Hospital in Gaza, the IDF Arabic posted this genocidal message,” wrote one user whose bio reads “Irrevocably anti Zionist.” “Not surprisingly, post was deleted after the massacre.”
“The Arabic IDF page on Facebook gloating about the hospital bombing,” wrote an Islam-focused account on Facebook titled “The fastest growing religion.”
“Friends, this is the nature of the propaganda being disseminated by Israel, ‘The most moral army’ in the world,” wrote another Facebook user of the fake account. “The repugnancy of Israeli lies and propaganda cannot be overstated.”