Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show Palestinians Performing Funeral Prayer In Rafah After Israeli Strike In Late May 2024 -- 2023 Photo

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show Palestinians Performing Funeral Prayer In Rafah After Israeli Strike In Late May 2024 -- 2023 Photo December 2023

Does a photo portray a funeral procession in southern Gaza after an Israeli strike on Rafah in late May 2024? No, that's not true: The image predates this particular attack. It shows a different funeral that took place in central Gaza on December 25, 2023, much farther from the border between Gaza and Egypt in Rafah.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Threads on May 27, 2024. It opened:

Palestinians performing a funeral prayer for the martyred refugees in Rafah. Israel opened fire on tents housing civilians last night, murdering dozens of people fleeing violence.

This is what the social media post looked like at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-05-29 at 10.26.42 AM.png

(Source: Threads screenshot taken on Wed 14:26:42 2024 UTC)

The post implied that the photo showed a recent event, but that image appeared on the internet for the first time much earlier than May 2024.


The image on Threads contained several identifiers consistent with older images of a particular location: the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah (archived here) in central Gaza, roughly 11 miles away from Rafah (archived here). For example, a beige canopy next to a red inscription paired with a unique curve of the gray road covered with tiles were seen in a photo (archived here) of the same hospital published by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on November 7, 2023. A video (archived here) uploaded on the internet the same month even showed bits of a green bush across the street in addition to other matching details.


The Al-Aqsa Hospital has a morgue, and funerals have taken place in front of it more than once since the beginning of Israel's response to the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack.

A reverse image search led a Lead Stories reporter to the Getty Image database containing images of one particular event, which provided a sufficient number of visual matches to place the photo from Threads on a timeline: It was likely taken on December 25, 2023.

Besides hospital exteriors and the crowd surrounding the bodies wrapped in white fabric, the photo on Threads (on the left, below) captured a man whose face was not covered, who is seen in a horizontal position at the bottom of the photo. This person was still alive but wounded and was transported to this location to attend the funeral, according to the description of his close-up on Getty Images (archived here) captured that day (on the right, below). The gray color of his T-shirt, the reddish fabric under his head and the green mattress on what appears to be his hospital bed matched what is seen in the image on Threads:

Screenshot 2024-05-29 at 5.17.34 PM.png

(Sources: Threads screenshot taken on Wed 14:26:42 2024 UTC; Getty Images screenshot taken on Wed 21:14:45 2024 UTC; composite image by Lead Stories)

A different photo (archived here) from the Getty Image catalogue taken on the same day, December 25, 2023, portrayed the scene from a much wider angle in a similar fashion as the image that is the focus of this fact check. Though not entirely identical, it shows a number of the elements that prove the two images were taken within the same -- relatively short -- window.

Lead Stories horizontally rotated the picture from Threads (on the left, below) to make it easier to compare it with a photo in the Getty Images catalogue (on the right, below) and marked the identical details, as seen in the screenshot below (click to view larger):

Screenshot 2024-05-29 at 5.11.35 PM.png

(Source: Threads screenshot taken on Wed 14:26:42 2024 UTC; Getty Images screenshot taken on Wed 21:05:17 2024 UTC; composite image by Lead Stories)

In the wide-angle Getty Images photo, the hospital bed of the man whose face is uncovered appears nearly at the same spot on the left side of the frame. Though the row of the bodies closest to him appears to show one, not two, deceased persons (carried by the circled person in green), the overall grouping of the bodies is consistent with what is seen on Threads.

Then, both photos capture the same person wearing green not far from the man and the same transparent umbrella next to a tripod on the opposite side of the images.

Furthermore, although different in shape, the traces of water on the canopy indicate that the two images were taken under the same weather conditions.

The fact that two accounts on Instagram published an image that was identical to the one on Threads on December 25, 2023 (archived here), and December 26, 2023 (archived here), further confirms that it does not show Gaza in May 2024.

Other Lead Stories fact checks of the claims related to the Hamas-Israel war that began on October 7, 2023, can be found here.

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