Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show 'Dad' Hugging 'Dead Body' Of A Child Killed in October 2023 Hamas-Israeli Conflict

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show 'Dad' Hugging 'Dead Body' Of A Child Killed in October 2023 Hamas-Israeli Conflict 2021

Does a video show a grieving father cuddling the lifeless body of his toddler who died as a result of the October 2023 Hamas-Israel violence? No, that's not true: The recording predates the October 2023 conflict. It went viral for the first time in 2021 with a description about a sick child being comforted by a pet cat.

The story appeared in a post (archived here) published on Instagram on October 15, 2023. It opened:

The Last Hug 🇵🇸❤️

Palestinian Dad hugs dead body while her cat take a last look 🇵🇸

The post included a video framed by the Palestinian flag. A black banner in the bottom left corner added on top of the footage continued:

When animals show
more compassion
towards children than
those who call
themselves humans.
A father, bearing the
lifeless body of his
daughter, a victim of
Israeli forces, as a cat
gently caresses her.

Here is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2023-10-18 at 2.51.37 PM.png(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Oct 18 18:51:37 2023 UTC)

The video contained a watermark linking it to a different account on TikTok that published the same video on October 14, 2023, under an Arabic caption seen in the archived version. As translated by Chrome to English, the post said:

God is sufficient for us, and He is the best disposer of affairs. And do not think that God is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them for a day when eyes will be clear.

This is how the post marked by TikTik as the "original" upload appeared:

Screen Shot 2023-10-17 at 5.39.11 PM.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Oct 17 21:39:11 2023 UTC; text automatically translated by Google Chrome)

The 14-second video shows an adult who appears to be a male caretaker sitting in an armchair with a toddler, partially covered with a white blanket, in his arms. The child, whose eyes are closed, doesn't move and shows no visible wounds.

As the camera starts zooming in, the child's eyelids seem to slightly tremble, which is more apparent when the video is played at a reduced speed.

In the first seconds of the clip, a calico cat jumps on the adult's lap and starts rubbing its face against the toddler.

Sad music accompanies the video, replacing the original sound that could have provided more context to what was captured on camera.

The footage started to circulate more than two years before the October 2023 escalation in the Middle East and has been reposted multiple times under different titles across different social media.

The oldest version of it found by Lead Stories (archived here) was uploaded to the Russian platform Vk.com on April 24, 2021.

The Russian-language caption did not say anything about the child's death. Instead, as translated to English by Chrome, it stated that the toddler was sick:

We don't deserve them or their devoted love. Our kitty was so worried about our baby when he got sick. Kotka did not leave the child's side for a minute.

Screen Shot 2023-10-17 at 4.55.47 PM.png

(Source: VK.com screenshot taken on Tue Oct 17 20:55:47 2023 UTC)

This older version of the video had a natural sound which appeared to be a TV show in a language different from English or Russian. Lead Stories identified it as Brazilian Portuguese. While not all of it was audible, in the final seconds, the male narrator mentioned an internationally known character whose name could be identified in the recording: Santa Claus.

On March 12, 2022, La Republica (archived here), a Lima-based major Peruvian newspaper, described the content of the video along those lines, mentioning that the footage was posted at the time in a group about animals on Facebook. As translated to English by Chrome, the article said:

A unique connection. On Facebook and other social networks , viral videos have been shared that show the special relationship that animals have with their owners' children. As happened in a recent case, where a cat became worried about his 'best friend' and did not hesitate to snuggle up next to him to watch over his sleep during a meeting at his house.

While the exact circumstances captured on camera as well as the nationality of the toddler and the caretaker remain unknown, the video does not show a grieving father whose child was killed as a result of the Hamas-Israeli conflict in October 2023.

Other Lead Stories fact checks that mention this year's escalation in the Middle East can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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