Fact Check: Photos Do NOT Show Palestinian Child As Crisis Actor -- These 2016 Photos Show Real Child Helped In Aleppo, Syria

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Photos Do NOT Show Palestinian Child As Crisis Actor -- These 2016 Photos Show Real Child Helped In Aleppo, Syria Syria 2016

Was the same Palestinian child used to stage fake rescue photos from three separate Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip on the same day in October 2023? No, that's not true: These three photos were taken in Aleppo, Syria, on August 27, 2016, by photojournalist Ameer Alhalbi. These photos are unrelated to the 2023 Hamas-Israel conflict. In the aftermath of an airstrike on Aleppo, this barefoot girl was carried over the rubble by several different people before she was transferred to a vehicle.

The mislabeled series of photos (archived here) was published on X, formerly Twitter, on October 24, 2023. The post's caption reads:

Somebody call Guinness World Records.
We have found the most lucky (or unlucky?) girl in the world.
She has miraculously survived Israel ruthless attacks on 3 separate occasions times on the same day.

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:

Twitter screenshot(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri Oct 27 13:57:21 2023 UTC)

These photos were taken in 2016 by Syrian photojournalist Ameer Alhalbi shortly after an airstrike of barrel bombs hit near a tent of mourners in the Maadi district of Aleppo, Syria. The August 27, 2016, photos are clearly marked in the online catalogue of Getty Images, an international photo agency, and are all identified as the same incident.

Despite this transparency, the photos have been misrepresented to present a false conspiracy narrative about "crisis actors" in different incidents.

A December 25, 2016, debunk by Snopes addressed a meme (pictured below) that uses the same three image panels as in the post pictured above. The meme is captioned:

When CNN uses the same girl
In 3 different Refugee Crisis pictures being saved by 3 different men


(Source: Snopes screenshot taken on Fri Oct 27 16:22:42 2023 UTC)

The barefoot girl appears in four of Alhalbi's photos. The three images above (left to right) are linked in the next sentence to the original, uncropped photos on gettyimages.com. The photos show the girl carried by a white-helmeted rescue worker, a man in yellow and a man in a plaid shirt.

A fourth photo that does not appear in the crisis-actor meme or the claim on X shows the man in the white helmet (Syria Civil Defence), who was also carrying another child, as he transferred the little girl into the arms of the man in the plaid shirt.

The man in the plaid shirt appears to be approaching the white-helmeted rescuer, but has been cropped out In the leftmost photo.

The nearly identical captions included with the four photos on gettyimages.com say:

A Syrian rescue worker carries children in the Maadi district of eastern Aleppo after regime aircrafts reportedly dropped explosive-packed barrel bombs on August 27, 2016. At least 15 civilians were reported killed when two bombs fell several minutes apart, near a tent where people were receiving condolences for those killed this week. (Photo by Ameer al-HALBI / AFP) (Photo by AMEER AL-HALBI/AFP via Getty Images)

Another press photographer, Abdalrhman Ismail, was also there and captured photos of the same barefoot girl. One of Ismail's photos shows the girl as she was carried by the man in the plaid shirt near an ambulance, and the other shows her sitting inside a vehicle. That photo is captioned:

An injured girl sits in a vehicle after surviving double airstrikes on the rebel held Bab al-Nairab neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, August 27, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims about the 2023 Hamas-Israel crisis can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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