Although the conflict between Israel and Palestine has been decades long, the latest escalation that occurred at the beginning of October has once again brought their complex relationship to the forefront of global attention. Many people are more intensively interested in the historical roots of this conflict, attempting to determine its causes and give their verdict on issues related to territory and autonomy.
The Internet has been flooded with disinformation about the events in Gaza with almost the same intensity. The online space has become a battleground for misinformation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
All questions about the causes become insignificant after looking at the consequences of this conflict, which are real and affect civilians on both sides.
Some social network users, however, have chosen to downplay the suffering of the people, trivializing their losses and claiming that the victims are not real but staged and scripted. The Raskrinkavanje portal pointed out that the video was recorded during a film set last year and is unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A natural human reaction to disturbing photos and videos, especially when they depict children, is anger. Expectedly, the footage of children in cages allegedly detained by Hamas has provoked numerous negative comments, although this video is not related to the current conflict but was created before Hamas’s attack.
Propaganda and weapons have always been part of classic military strategy, both directed against people in the war zone and those of us who watch it on the screens.
Thus, disinformers used an altered CNN report in an attempt to convince us that we are living in a “Truman Show” and that the conflict is fictional. The essence of conspiracy theories is that very little effort is needed to disseminate false claims. Therefore, in line with this logic, authentic reporting footage from CNN with audio instructions for the reporting team was later added, even though these instructions do not exist.
Regional media also reminded us of video games through misinformation, unfortunately not in the form of a review but by claiming that Hamas shot down four Israeli military helicopters using a clip from a video game.
A video allegedly claiming to show the bombing of Gaza also went viral. However, we pointed out that it was recorded much earlier and on a different occasion, during the celebration of a football league title in Algeria.
The media went a step further in misinforming the public. The Happy online portal published inaccurate information that Lebanon had entered the war. The threat of the conflict spreading and involving other states in the Israel-Palestine conflict is real and justified. However, the fact is that this conflict has already exceeded territorial borders and included us, who watch through small or large screens, oversaturated with information but also with disinformation.
Territorial distance and language barriers have made it more difficult for readers from our region to fact-check information, making them more susceptible to manipulative narratives.
Examples include statements from the Qatari Sheikh that he would cut off global gas supplies if the bombing of the Gaza Strip was not stopped and the President of Turkey, who allegedly “threatened” the United States for the same reason. Both videos were recorded much earlier, and in our analysis, we have shown that no attributed threats can be heard in their shared statements.
So, the Israel-Palestine conflict follows a well-known trend of disinformation—old videos of world leaders were shared with inaccurate contexts.
In the last two weeks, disinformation has also involved other leaders of leading world powers.
Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, allegedly expressed support for Palestine, and the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, reportedly sent troops there – which is, you guessed it, fake news. There is, of course, the United States of America, which was falsely reported to have sent $8 billion in aid to Israel, originally intended for Ukraine.
Some of the marginal media outlets in the region have also reported a fabricated statement from the Israeli Defense Minister that the rules of warfare would be abolished in the current conflict.
The Raskrinkavanje team can confirm, from their experience, that besides taking innocent victims, wars bring massive waves of disinformation and activate individuals, groups, and media ready to manipulate these victims for clicks, likes, or to “prove” that their agenda is correct.