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OSINT in Action – Fact Checking the New York Times

On 21 May 2021 Israel and Hamas agreed ceasefire after 11 days of fighting. On 26 May 2021 the New York Times already published a front page photo-essay – “They Were Only Children”, invalidity suggesting that Israel is responsible for the tragic deaths. The photo of one of the children, Rahaf Al Masry, seemed from a stock photo collection. We decided to investigate.

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Fake Photo

We ran reverse image searches and quickly established that it was not Rahaf Al Masry but a photo of a girl from Ramallah and that it was taken in October 2015 by Photographer Maiar Abu Shalback.

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Militants Listed as Victims

We did same for other photos and discovered that the New York Times also put a child soldier and a member of the Mujahideen Brigades, Khaled Emad Al-Kanou, on its front cover article.

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Another photo that appeared in the essay is of Mohammad Suleiman, the son of Saber Ibrahim Suleiman, an al-Qassam Brigades commander in Jabalia. Both were killed in an IDF airstrike. We ran searches against social media platforms for “Saber Suleiman” and uncovered some disturbing images.

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We also discovered Facebook posts and photos showing Mohammad Suleiman in combat uniform and holding weapons.

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The New York Times should have been aware of this before going to print as the information was freely available in the public domain since 11 May 2021.

Update 6 June 2021

DigFind was mentioned in the Spectator for doing this fact checking work.

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