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This image is widely shared on social media.

enter image description here

Did they really do that?

The photo seems real because there is what appears to be Hebrew letters in the background and the uniforms look right.

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TL;DR: No, the image is photo-shopped.

This is shown by:

  • Finding an earlier published image which is extremely similar, aside from the content of the placard being Israeli flag (star of David) instead of a message; and no other changes aside from minor image processing ones (different compression ratio, minor cropping)

  • Preponderance of circumstantial evidence

    • Image processing evidence (image differences are consistent with photo editing being applied to produce the OP's Twitter image)

    • Lack of evidence that Twitter image originated from an Israeli soldier despite 200+ reposts.


  • Evidence 1:

    I did a Google Image Search on this image.

    Of the 200+ hits, NONE of them were from an Israeli or pro-Israeli website. The image resides exclusively in Arab or anti-Israeli social media feeds and blogs

    Please note that there are TWO data points here:

    • most of the image's copes seen on Twitter and FB are dated from August 3d and on. I haven't found a single earlier image (this isn't proof by itself, but a data point for proof in Evidence #2).

    • NONE of the posts linked to the original source of the image on "Israeli" side to prove its originality. (Circumstantial evidence)

  • Evidence 2:

    However, a VERY similar image was posted on an Israeli web site on July 31, 2014 (StandWithUs Facebook page):

    enter image description here

    Note that the image is nearly identical, save for placards being Israeli flag instead of the offensive message, and being slightly better quality subjectively (I didn't analyze EXIF data, however).

    As of right now, I have no formal proof for "nearly identical", but seeking a good methodology to prove that.

  • Evidence 3:

    I also compared EXIF info from 2 images : 2014/07/31 original vs 2014/08/xx twitter.

    The original has Original Transmission Reference field (aka Job Identifier)... while the Twitter one doesn't; which - while not a proof - is consistent with an image taken with a camera vs. one saved in image editing program. I asked for whether it's a valid conclusion on Photography.SE (Circumstantial evidence)

  • Evidence 4:

    The overall quality of the presumed-original image is higher. For examples, the people in front of white car on the left have more defined skin tone on their hands, and overall the image looks sharper, despite being smaller file size as per EXIF data.

  • Evidence 5:

    The twitter image is SMALLER, it's cropped.

    The presumed-original, for example, shows a human shadow all the way on the right of the image missing from the photoshop copy (and the second word of the text is fully visible as opposed to being cut off at 1 letter); as well as the headlight of the white car on the left of the image.

  • Evidence 6:

    What the women are holding are binders (you can see the binding spiral on top of them). Having a binder with a slogan used as a poster is not exactly normal or ever done (whereas putting a country flag on top of a binder is quite plausible). (Circumstantial evidence)

UN-CITED ASSUMPTIONS:

  1. That you can not easily change the posting date of a Facebook image (Evidence #2).

    • Or that Facebook itself isn't part of a cover-up by changing the date.
  2. That the 2 images are indeed almost identical, aside from slight cropping and the placard content. (Evidence #2).

    One one hand, human brain is known to be very good at assessing such similarity (again, citation needed) and clearly a vast majority of voters agree. On the other hand, that's not formal proof even so, and it's a logical fallacy to rely on "majority of voters agree".

    As such, I posted a question on Photography.SE for a way to more formally compare 2 images. If it doesn't get closed as offtopic, I will apply whatever solution gets proposed here as further proof of this assumption.

  3. That it's very hard to "uncrop" an image, or add quality. (Evidence #4/5).

    (as opposed to cropping it and reducing quality due to lossy compression).

  4. People don't usually use pre-printed spiral binders to print posters as a rule. (Evidence #6).

| improve this answer | |
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    Evidence 6: The writing on the placards is in English rather than Hebrew (like the other writing in the photo). – Gabe Aug 17 '14 at 5:08
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    @BattleofKarbala - (1). The problem isn't that the original can't be found, but that NONE of the 200+ instances of Arab ones linked to where the original came from (even if that original is no longer a working page, Google Cache can be used to view deleted image). "I copied it from that Arab's twitter" isn't proof of originality. Only "I copied it from this Israeli's FB feed" is. (2) You can't fake Facebook posting date. (3/4) Google "Occam's Razor". Nobody would deliberately add details AND the edges that would take days to draw and don't address the actual changes being photoshopped – user5341 Aug 17 '14 at 7:26
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    @BattleofKarbala Re your points 3 and 4, there are limits to what can be done with Photoshop, unless you are a very talented artist. For example, if "We kill children" was the original image, the only way to get the Israeli flag version would be to draw, by hand, the missing parts of the image (such as the front of the van in the top-right background). Of course, there are people who can draw photorealistic images by hand but it's a very rare skill. Likewise, Photoshop can reduce blur by only a limited degree; "We kill children" is much blurrier than the Israeli flag version. – David Richerby Aug 17 '14 at 11:18
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    Evidence 7: These sorts of comb binders don't fold over easily. Both these womens' binders appear to be on the first page. So, Israel would have to manufacture 2 comb binders, one with the "We Kill" and one with "Children!" and would need people to stand in the right order when taking photos (Hebrew reads right-to-left, ) – user1873 Aug 17 '14 at 17:44
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    @Oddthinking - Because it doesn't contain irreproducible experiments, as original research would. Every single piece of evidence is verifiable independently of me. Frankly, I agree with the other answerer - if I merely posted that on my own blog and linked to it wouldn't be considered "original research" at all. – user5341 Aug 19 '14 at 19:48

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