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Old clip shows filming of Palestinian short film, not “staged child death in Gaza”

Behind-the-scenes footage from a short fictional film resurfaced in posts from 2024 that have been viewed tens of thousands of times, falsely claiming the film depicts the staged death of a child in Gaza during the war with Israel. The clip – shot on the set of a March 2022 film about a firefighter in the Palestinian territory – is one of the most recent to be misused, alongside false claims of faked deaths and injuries in the conflict.

“This clip is a behind-the-scenes footage of 'children killed' in Gaza,” read the simplified Chinese caption of a Weibo video shared on May 17, 2024.

The video shows a smiling child in a red hoodie being helped from a table by two men in a room littered with rubble.

The scene appears to have been part of a film set, as the video shows a cameraman and several other people watching from across the room.

The caption beneath the video reads “@GAZAWOOD1” – a derogatory portmanteau of the terms “Gaza” and “Hollywood” used to describe videos and images purporting to show injuries and deaths in the Gaza Strip that were staged and then distributed to elicit public sympathy.

AFP has previously debunked claims about videos allegedly showing “crisis actors” in Gaza here, here and here.

<span>Screenshot of the fake Weibo post taken on June 3, 2024</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/47Q3r68o8zv2OnsiMyp.Lg–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY3OA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_uk_202/7be17bd3e891834cb644c25019d828c8″/><span><button-Klasse=

Screenshot of the fake Weibo post taken on June 3, 2024

The video, alongside similar claims in Chinese on X here and here, as well as in English, Arabic and Hebrew, has been viewed tens of thousands of times. It also circulated in Spanish on Facebook.

It was published almost eight months after the outbreak of the Gaza war, which was triggered by Hamas's attack on southern Israel on October 7.

The Hamas attack killed 1,189 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on the latest official Israeli figures. The militants also took 252 hostages, of whom 121 are still in Gaza, including 37 who the army says are dead.

According to the Health Ministry of the Hamas-controlled area, at least 36,439 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel's retaliatory offensive in Gaza.

But the clip circulating on the Internet is part of a film that was released more than a year and a half before the Gaza war began.

Footage

A combination of reverse image and keyword Search queries on Google led to the same video that TikTok user “@m_zaqout” posted on 15 February 2022 (archived link).

The Arabic description of the video was “New Film.”

Below you can see a screenshot comparison of the video shared in the fake post (left) and the video published on TikTok (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison of the video shared in the fake post (left) and the video published on TikTok (right)</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/gROqyoHqxQh8cmXDP6unEA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU5Mg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_uk_202/afa6a8a747a2425138318f3a1fd032ef”/><span><button-Klasse=

Screenshot comparison of the video shared in the fake post (left) and the video published on TikTok (right)

The user’s full name, according to his TikTok profile (archived link), is Mahmoud Maher Zaqout.

Subsequent keyword searches on Google led to his Instagram profile, where he describes himself as a videographer, photographer and “Palestinian from Gaza.”

In an Instagram story from May 17, 2024 Zaqout ppublished screenshots of a Facebook post by Israeli politician Ofir Gendelman, in which he rejected the claim that the footage from the film set showed a “boy from Gaza working for Hamas’s false propaganda.”

“This is behind the scenes footage from an old movie shot in 2022.” Zaqout wrote on Instagram, as seen in the screenshot below:

<span>Screenshot of Mahmoud's Instagram story from May 17, 2024</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/di.5h.EpbH0qJ8B8KyhMCA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTE2ODY-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_uk_202/6fad8190dd522242a65bbc7da312e7e1″/><span></div>
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Screenshot of Mahmoud's Instagram story from May 17, 2024

Zaqout, now in Egypt, told AFP he was one of the men in the clip who helped the child get off the table.

On March 2, 2022, he also shared the final version of the film on his Instagram account. (archived link).

It was posted the same day on the official Facebook page of the Palestinian Civil Defense, with the Arabic caption “World Civil Defense Day” – a reference to an annual event launched by the Geneva-based International Civil Defense Organization (ICDO). (archived link).

Zaqout told AFP's Spanish-speaking team in Argentina that the film shows the “life of a firefighter”.

In the finished film, the child in the red hoodie is seen being rescued after an explosion, but he is lying on the floor and not on a table.

Below you will find a Screenshot comparison between the mistakenly shared video (left) and a scene from the film released in 2022 (right), with the corresponding features highlighted by AFP:

<span>Screenshot comparison between the mistakenly shared video (left) and a scene from the 2022 film (right)</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/f.nET1EEhHNAjnVh2TA7Tw–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTM3Mg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_uk_202/f62d3124c6f4e81cefc87b7a6bfc0fd0″/><span><button-Klasse=

Screenshot comparison between the mistakenly shared video (left) and a scene from the 2022 film (right)

AFP has debunked further misinformation related to the war between Israel and Hamas here.