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Doctored photo does not show Israeli PM Netanyahu ‘hospitalised with Covid’

Doctored photo does not show Israeli PM Netanyahu 'hospitalised with Covid' - Featured image

Author(s): Chayanit ITTHIPONGMAETEE / AFP Thailand

A digitally altered photo of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has circulated in posts falsely claiming it shows him hospitalised for a “mutated strain of coronavirus”. The image — shared worldwide — was manipulated from a photo of his wife Sara visiting the victim of a 2015 attack in Jerusalem. As of March 8, 2024, there have been no official reports that Netanyahu was being treated in hospital for a Covid-19 infection.

“Netanyahu is infected with a mutated strain of coronavirus,” reads Thai-language superimposed text in this TikTok video that featured the doctored photo of a masked Netanyahu lying on a hospital bed.

It has been viewed more than 6,000 times since it was posted on March 4, 2024.

The post’s caption continued: “I hope we can hear good news. Let’s wait for it.”

A screenshot of the false TikTok post, taken March 6, 2024

The same manipulated photo was shared alongside the same false claim in Thai language here and here; in English here and here; and Indonesian here.

Comments from some users indicated they believed the photo was genuine.

“Wishing Covid good luck,” one comment read.

“Hopefully karma is getting him back and it’s slow and painful,” another comment read.

The posts emerged online after local media reported that Netanyahu had cancelled all scheduled meetings after falling sick with the flu (archived link).

But the photo shared online has been digitally altered to insert the Israeli leader’s face. As of March 8, 2024, there have been no official reports that he was hospitalised with coronavirus.

US fact-check site Snopes debunked the claim here in a report on March 4, 2024 (archived link).

Doctored image

Using a reverse image search on Google, AFP found that the original, unedited photo first appeared in October 2015 on Netanyahu’s official Facebook account (archived link).

It shows his wife Sara visiting a wounded patient and her son at a hospital in Jerusalem following a Palestinian attack on October 3, 2015.

The Hebrew-language caption translates to English as, “Today, my wife Sara visited Adele Bennett and her son Natan, who were injured in the terrorist attack that took place in Jerusalem last Saturday night, at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.”

Screenshot of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Facebook post, captured on March 7, 2024

AFP found the original photo was mirrored before Netanyahu’s head was inserted on Bennett’s body.

Below is a comparison of the photo in the false posts (left) and the original photo on Netanyahu’s Facebook page in 2015 (right):

A screenshot comparison of the doctored image (left) and the original photo (right)

Netanyahu was pictured visiting the same attack victim in this report by the Times of Israel on October 4, 2015 (archived link).

In 2015, AFP reported here on the October 3 attack, when a Palestinian murdered two Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City, setting off a security crackdown (archived link).

AFP has previously debunked misinformation about Netanyahu here, here, and here.

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Originally published here.
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