British sports commentator Gary Lineker caused a Twitter storm recently when he shared a controversial - and highly misleading - video purportedly showing Israeli soldiers arresting teenagers and holding them in a “cage”.  

Israeli journalist Emanuel Miller immediately recognized the location in the video and headed there himself to film the site from a different angle.  “Gary Lineker, you were duped,” he wrote. “Palestinian youths were held in a corridor not a cage.”

Shown from a different angle, it was clear that Lineker’s video had been shot in a highly misleading way, with the cameraman crouched down and filming through a fence, to give the impression people were sitting behind bars in a cage.  

Even after this deliberately misleading camera angle was revealed (and it was shown that the video was made by a notorious anti-Israel activist), Gary Lineker refused to acknowledge his error, doubling down on his defense of the misleading video and tweeting: “There is no justification for stuffing them in a cage.”  Newspapers covering the Twitter storm too gave credence to the misleading video.  Britain’s Daily Mail was typical in accepting the video’s misleading images as true in a headline, they declared, “Gary Lineker is criticized for condemning a video of Palestinian children being arrested and detained in a cage by Israeli forces as ‘sickening’ on Twitter - while hundreds praise him for his views.”

With one misleading camera angle, reams of false allegations about Israelis supposedly keeping arrested youths in a nonexistent “cage” have now filled the internet, poisoning people’s impressions of Israel now and possibly for years to come.

Behind Bars

It’s not the first time that misleading photos have slandered the Jewish state.

Back in 2010, Britain’s Independent newspaper also published pictures of Palestinian children behind bars, their little arms stretched heartbreakingly through the sturdy bars of what looks like a prison.  The image is arresting, but entirely misleading.  

The occasion was a Hamas-organized protest, in which children were brought to an industrial area and posed next to a steel fence.  At no time were they locked up in any way.  The photo was taken by Gaza-based photographer Mohammed Abed who sold his picture to Agence France Presse. It seems Mr. Abed was working with Hamas to stage the shot, and he deliberately positioned his camera on the far side of a sturdy fence to make it appear the youngsters were behind bars, as a rear photo of the same scene makes clear.  

Doctored Photos

Sometimes photos are forged outright to slander the Jewish state.  In 2006, Reuters admitted that photos it had used by Beirut-based photographer Adnan Hajj were “altered” to show supposed attacks by Israel that had never taken place.  “Pictures kill” the news site acknowledged, and offered their “sincerest apologies.”  The doctored pictures were removed from Reuters’ archives, but not before they’d been seen by millions around the world.  

At least Reuters acknowledged they’d been duped.  As more people rely on social media for their news, it’s becoming common to circulate photos and other images that are outright fabricated - with no way to retract or correct misleading pictures.  

One photo that has spread like wildfire on social media purports to show an Israeli policeman aiming his gun at and standing with his foot on the chest of a prone Arab girl.  Despite the fact that the supposed “Israeli soldier’ is not wearing an Israeli uniform, and despite the fact his gun is not standard Israeli issue, the photo was reproduced thousands of times.  “The photo has been checked by the IDF Spokesperson” Israel’s army stated in 2015; “and that soldier is not Israeli.  Unfortunately, the use of such photos is a known method, trying to harm Israel’s image on the internet and is part of the social networks war of information.”  The visceral picture continues to spread around the internet.

“Gaza Under Attack”

In 2014, the trending hashtag #GazaUnderAttack was used hundreds of thousands of times.  A report by the BBC found that many of the accompanying photos were of old conflicts or of fighting in Iraq and Syria.  One 16 year old interviewed by the BBC admitted to using old war photos to “illustrate” her Gaza posts, and didn’t seem to regret the subterfuge, explaining she never expected her tweets to be re-tweeted thousands of times.  

One visceral fake image that went viral was as completely fabricated screenshot of The Times of Israel showing that the city of Tel Aviv had installed huge screens on the beach so that Israeli beach-goers could watch live coverage of Israeli forces attacking Gaza.  “Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to gather on the beach tonight to enjoy the warm summer evening while counting the F-16 strikes on the nearby coastal city of Gaza” the fake new report read, painting an image of Israelis as callous and cruel.  In reality, Israelis were cowering in bomb shelters as missiles rained on them during that conflict, not enjoying the beach, and the photo was a doctored image of a picture taken in Brazil, where beach goers watched the World Cup on giant screens.  But the image was re-tweeted and shared hundreds of times, spreading its lies and poison throughout the web.

We all have to be alert to doctored, misleading, faked and mislabeled images and information.  Gary Lineker’s doubling-down on defending a sham photograph should be a wake-up call to all of us not to do the same.  

With so many false images circulating on the internet, checking sources and subscribing to media monitoring sites such as can help us be more responsible when it comes to understanding and sharing information about the Jewish state and beyond.

Click here to watch Photo Fraud in Lebanon