In the age of digital media, conflicts are not limited to the battleground. Across the ongoing Israel-Hamas War, an information war rages on social media and online platforms. Here, the frontline is less defined, yet the impact is deeply consequential. Understanding this digital dimension becomes essential for anyone seeking to navigate or comprehend the conflict. This extends into the realm of information, where narratives are shaped, opinions are influenced, and, oftentimes, facts are distorted.
Misinformation and Disinformation
While misinformation—false or misleading information shared without harmful intent—is being accidentally consumed and reposted, disinformation represents a more troubling trend. ZeroFox Intel has identified influential accounts with a consistent pattern of spreading false narratives about the conflict, indicating deliberate deception. These accounts come from both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian corners.
Often used interchangeably, misinformation and disinformation refer to two different, yet very similar, types of info.
- Misinformation: False, misleading, or out-of-context content shared without intent to deceive or cause harm.
- Disinformation: Deliberately false, misleading, or biased content shared with intent to deceive or cause harm.
Disinformation, much like misinformation, often elicits an extreme or reactionary response. The primary difference relates to intent, which can be difficult to determine. While conspiracy theories may be started and circulated for nefarious purposes, they could be propagated by unwitting, misinformed, and well-intentioned individuals that believe it to be true. Conversely, misinformation can turn into disinformation when it’s still shared by individuals who know it’s incorrect but intentionally spread it to stir division.
Reoccurring Themes of Mis/Disinformation in the Current Israel-Hamas War
- Old or Fabricated Military Footage: Old footage is often repurposed and claimed to be the latest action by military forces. Footage from video games is often circulated as real-world events.
- Humanitarian Crises: Previously recorded crises are claimed to represent the current situation in Gaza.
- Border Situations: Older footage is circulated to describe current conditions at the Lebanon and Egypt borders.
- Dehumanization: There are attempts to diminish the suffering on either side, often with fabricated or misleading evidence.
- Conflation and Identity: Hashtags like #IslamIsTheProblem conflate Hamas with Palestinians and Muslims as a whole. Similar tactics are also being used against Israel and the global Jewish community.
- Edited Interviews: Content from interviews is manipulated to serve different agendas.
- Conspiracy Theories: Claims like the Hamas attacks being a U.S. Psyop aiming to mislead the audience.
- Inaccurate Commentary: Commentary that intentionally distorts or omits key facts is rampant.
- Impersonations: False accounts and/or screenshots of top officials.
Impersonation of Gen. Mark A. Miley
Examples of Mis/Disinformation in the Current Israel-Hamas War
- Rumors about a man with a knife in the UK targeting Jews were debunked.
- Video claiming to show Palestinians faking injuries was found to be old and out of context.
- Claims of Egyptians delivering aid to Gaza were disproved.
- Video claiming to show children in Gaza searching for food after an airstrike. The clip was posted to TikTok in 2021 and appears to show the aftermath of a fire at a Syrian refugee camp near the town of Hanin in northern Lebanon.
- Tweets alleging vandalism by pro-Palestinian supporters in Sweden were revealed to be from 2022 following days of unrest sparked by plans to burn copies of the Quran.
- A widely-circulated, now-deleted Meta post in Arabic by a purported official Israel Defence Force (IDF) account claimed that Israel was responsible for the explosion at Gaza’s al-Ahli Baptist Hospital. However, the post was not from the official IDF Meta page that posts in Arabic. (Legitimate Page)
The Illegitimate Post
ZeroFox intel has identified a notable uptick in anti-Palestinian disinformation from seemingly Indian accounts and anti-Israel disinformation from seemingly pro-Russian accounts.
A pro-Kremlin account spreading pro-Palestinian disinformation.
Navigating the Complexity of the Conflict
ZeroFox recommends exercising skepticism and verifying information through official channels before accepting it as truth. A multitude of tools and resources exist to assist in verifying the legitimacy of content, and it’s critical to use these to be well-informed. Here are a few sources you can use:
The proliferation of mis- and disinformation adds another layer of complexity to an already intricate and sensitive issue like the Israel-Hamas conflict. As responsible consumers of information, it falls upon the individual to distinguish between what is true and what is not, and to contribute responsibly to the broader conversation.
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