Israeli diplomat Ofir Gendelman is under intense scrutiny after spreading lies online that Palestinians "fake injuries" to garner sympathy from the world abroad.
Gendelman, who is a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, posted a clip to X on Thursday which featured behind-the-scenes footage from a Lebanese short film, The Reality. The film is a tribute to the Palestinians who have been killed or displaced since Israel's retaliation for the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks began last month.
“The Palestinians are fooling the international media and public opinion,” Gendelman wrote. “DON’T FALL FOR IT. See for yourselves how they fake injuries and evacuating 'injured’ civilians, all in front of thr cameras. Pallywood gets busted again.”
Gendelman called the footage "Pallywood," as in Palestinian Hollywood. It is a far-right conspiracy theory among Israelis that Palestinians, in tandem with Western media, are staging injuries, destruction, and deaths from Israeli forces in order to make their government look bad.
Larry Derfman, an Israeli-American journalist, has called the term "a particularly ugly ethnic slur." Eyal Weizman, a British Israeli architect whose work with research group Forensic Architecture has been called "Pallywood," likened it to claims of "fake news" from U.S. conservatives.
“The bastards’ last line of defense is to call it ‘fake news,’” he told The Guardian in 2018. “The minute they revert to this argument is when they’ve lost all the others.”
Gendelman was quickly fact-checked after posting the footage, by X's community notes, journalists from the BBC, and even the director of The Reality, Mahmoud Ramzi, as well as the child actor in the video, Rami Jardali. It is not the first time that Gendelman has been caught spreading disinformation, as just last week, he posted footage of Israel Defense Forces training exercises while claiming it was from military operations inside Hamas tunnels.
The Israeli government has also been accused of spreading disinformation about the conflict. After a devastating blast at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza last month, the official account for the Israeli army posted to X supposed footage of the "enemy" missile that was responsible. The footage was quietly removed after journalists noted that its timestamps did not match that of the explosion.
Over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's retaliation against Hamas so far, over 4,500 of whom were children. An additional 3,000 of the total were women and the elderly, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The ministry, which operates in the Hamas-controlled enclave, has been accused of misrepresenting the death toll, even by U.S. President Joe Biden, despite internationally-recognized aid organizations supporting their numbers. In response to the accusations, the ministry published a registry of all the names and identification numbers of those who have been killed so far.