Have you seen a photo purporting to show Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hospitalized? The image has gone viral on TikTok, racking up more than 3 million views. But it’s completely fake. The image appears to have been created using AI software.
“Urgent and important: Benjamin Netanyahu is in intensive care,” one of the viral TikTok posts said.
But there’s absolutely no evidence that Netanyahu has been hospitalized. In fact, while this fake photo was going viral on TikTok on Tuesday, Netanyahu was giving an interview to David Muir of ABC News.
BBC fact-checker Shayan Sardarizadeh was the first to debunk this particular image, but there are countless other fakes that have been flooding social media since the start of the current war between Israel and Hamas, which started on October 7 when terrorists killed 1,400 people in Israel.
In fact, this isn’t even the first time someone on social media has claimed Netanyahu has been ill. Starting on the night of October 7, the same day as the terrorist attacks, there was already a Twitter account spreading the fake news that Netanyahu was sick. That account has since been suspended.
While the fake image of Netanyahu in the hospital has been going viral this week, there have also been misleading posts about Netanyahu’s health that rely on old information. For example, Netanyahu actually did have a health scare back in July, which was reported on widely at the time. But some people on TikTok have been spreading those old news reports this week in an effort to make it look like Netanyahu currently has health problems. Again, there’s no evidence Netanyahu has health problems at the moment.
Israel has been engaging in ground operations in Gaza this week and Israelis officials have told the public to be prepared for a long war. More than 10,000 Palestinians have died in airstrikes since the start of the war, according to the Associated Press and the Gaza Health Ministry. Over 4,100 of those are children.