When based on misinformation, an error in judgement on the battlefield can cost lives. On the Internet the results are less deadly, but embarrassing all the same.
The IDF blog recently sought to debunk the myth that Israel’s naval blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has turned the area into an “open-air prison.” In its blog entitled “What Happened to the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza?” the IDF posted several pictures that it claimed show the “beautiful beaches and hotels… pristine grocery stores and markets heaving with fresh produce… even… an Olympic-size swimming pool.”
The pictures did indeed show a different reality to the Gaza the world has become accustomed to seeing over the past several years.
But there was a slight problem with one of the snaps, purporting to show “The shopping mall for the latest fashion from overseas…”
The gorgeous mall in the photograph is not actually in Gaza. It is, rather, the Suria KLCC mall… in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Several commentators on the site noted the mistake, and the IDF quickly removed the offending photograph, but not before the credibility of the entire piece took a beating.
In the course of Israel’s ongoing battles with Hamas fighters from Gaza, particularly during Israel’s incursions into the Strip to combat the barrage of rockets being lobbed at Israeli civilians, many photographs have surfaced claiming to show the suffering of Gazans at the hands of IDF sorties.
More than once, these pictures have proven to be fictitious — whether photoshopped, taken at a different time and place than claimed, or purporting to show the result of an IDF attack, when the army was not involved in the incident.
Given the need for credibility, the IDF might have been expected to be more careful with its posted pictures.
While there are no guarantees that the other pictures in the offending blog are from Gaza, some do seem legitimate.
One commentator highlighted a website that would indicate that the “new grocery story” shown is indeed the Metro Supermarket in Gaza, and one of the pictures depicting Gaza night life is marked as being taken by Ibrahim Faraj, who, according to his Facebook page, is a Gaza-based photographer with several lovely pictures of the Gaza Strip displayed on his page.