The official government account for Israel deleted a post on X promoting the conspiracy that crisis actors in Palestine are faking their deaths amid Israel’s war with Hamas.
The war, launched Oct. 7 in the wake of Hamas’ brutal attack against Israeli civilians, has had a massive death toll across both nations.
At least 1,400 people in Israel have been killed and about 200 remain in captivity as hostages in Gaza. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 8,000 people have been killed, nearly half of whom were children.
Some critics have questioned the veracity of the casualty numbers coming from Gaza, including President Joe Biden, who said last Wednesday he has “no notion if Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed” and “no confidence in the number that Palestinians are using.”
The United Nations and multiple humanitarian organizations believe the figures from the Health Ministry are broadly accurate and have been historically reliable.
A frequent conspiracy theory cited by individuals doubting the veracity of the casualty figures is the baseless belief that Palestinians are employing crisis actors to pretend to be dead.
One such conspiracy theory was promoted by the official State of Israel last week before being taken down on Wednesday.
“Reminder: The Gaza Ministry of Health=Hamas,” Israel wrote in its initial post. “Bodies can’t move their heads.”
Misinformation has proliferated amid the war.
Footage that supposedly showed body bags moving has been repeatedly shared since the war broke out. The body bag clip was filmed in 2013 in Egypt.
Another image of an alleged crisis actor is a child’s Halloween costume which was taken at least a year ago.
A separate instance of misinformation is a video showing a woman in a hijab dabbing fake blood and makeup onto people to make it appear they’ve been severely wounded. The video is not from the current conflict but can be traced back to a 2017 news report about the film industry in Gaza, according to the Associated Press.
Wednesday’s deletion by Israel’s X account is not the first time the government has promoted and then walked back posts promoting the conspiracy theory.
Mashable reporter Matt Binder noted in late October that Israel deleted a post in which it wrote “the devil works hard but Gaza’s film industry works harder.”
The post implied a Palestinian man had pretended to be hospitalized, but the images actually showed different people, according to Binder.
“on the left is Saleh Aljafarawi, found on Instagram posting footage from Gaza as saleh_aljafarawe the person in the hospital is 16 yo Mohammed Zendiq,” Binder wrote. “the footage was posted on TikTok in August when he was hospitalized after losing his leg during an IDF raid in the West Bank.”
Israel also deleted a post after people objected to its genocidal tone.