May 23, 2024

Footage of charity workers packing parcels for Gaza showed they contained food supplies, contrary to Facebook posts that accused them of sending cigarettes to the war-torn territory. The baseless claim appeared to play on a conspiracy theory accusing Palestinians of faking their suffering, as a humanitarian crisis triggered by Israel’s war against Hamas deepened. A spokesman for the Al-Imdaad Foundation shared a photo with AFP that showed basic commodities such as flour and canned food in the packages.

“Trucks of cigarettes also entered Gaza last night. Are cigarettes a basic need? How long can the Palestinians fool the world?” read a Facebook post shared on April 19, 2024.

It featured a photo of trucks loaded with boxes at a warehouse.

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on April 20, 2024” data-src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim.jpg”><img alt="Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on April 20, 2024” src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim.jpg” class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on April 20, 2024

The photo was shared in similar posts around the world, including  Australia, Britain and Israel.

Israel’s more than six-month war against Hamas in Gaza has triggered a humanitarian crisis, and it faces growing pressure to enable more aid deliveries as the United Nations warns famine is imminent.

The war began with Hamas’s October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed more than 34,500 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory

The information war running in parallel with the conflict on the ground has seen conspiracy theorists accuse ordinary Palestinians and Israelis of being “crisis actors” — feigning injuries and deaths to garner sympathy and demonise the other side.

Some of the most viral posts targeting war-afflicted Gazans have used the term “Pallywood”, a derogatory label blending “Palestine” with “Hollywood”.

‘Deceptive, baseless’ claim

A reverse image search on Google found the photo of trucks posted on the Jordanian prime minister’s Facebook and X accounts on April 7, 2024 (archived links here and here).

According to the posts, the picture shows part of a convoy of 105 trucks “loaded with food supplies” in Jordan headed for Gaza as part of relief efforts organised by the Jordanian Hashemite Charitable Organization (JHCO).

“The Jordanian Hashemite Charitable Organization announced the dispatch of the largest land convoy to families in #Gaza today, Sunday, in cooperation with the Jordanian Armed Forces – the Arab Army,” the posts read in Arabic.

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="Screenshot of the photo in an X post by the Jordanian prime minister, taken on April 30, 2024” data-src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim-1.jpg”><img alt="Screenshot of the photo in an X post by the Jordanian prime minister, taken on April 30, 2024” src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim-1.jpg” class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot of the photo in an X post by the Jordanian prime minister, taken on April 30, 2024

The JHCO posted a video on Facebook that same day showing aid workers loading parcels onto the trucks (archived link).

While the JHCO’s logo is seen printed on the side of the trucks, the parcels themselves read “Al-Imdaad Foundation”, referring to a relief organisation that partners with the JHCO.

The video appears to show the same boxes and warehouse seen in the photo circulating on Facebook.

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="Screenshot comparison of corresponding elements in the falsely shared photo (left) and footage from the JHCO (right)” data-src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim-2.jpg”><img alt="Screenshot comparison of corresponding elements in the falsely shared photo (left) and footage from the JHCO (right)” src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim-2.jpg” class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot comparison of corresponding elements in the falsely shared photo (left) and footage from the JHCO (right)

JHCO spokeswoman Shahd Anani said the claim the parcels contained cigarettes was “so far from the truth”.

JHCO’s aid trucks, in cooperation with many humanitarian organisations, are only loaded with food supplies, medical supplies and other relief items which are all backed up with loading lists to the last and smallest items,” she told AFP on April 28.

The Associated Press (AP) news agency published footage on April 8 showing the convoy of trucks (archived link).

The Al-Imdaad Foundation posted videos on YouTube on April 7 showing aid workers packing parcels and on April 18 showing parcels arriving in Gaza (archived links here and here).

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt=" Al-Imdaad Foundation YouTube video from April 7, 2024 showing aid workers preparing food parcels for Gaza” data-src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim-3.jpg”><img alt=" Al-Imdaad Foundation YouTube video from April 7, 2024 showing aid workers preparing food parcels for Gaza” src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim-3.jpg” class=”caas-img”>

Al-Imdaad Foundation YouTube video from April 7, 2024 showing aid workers preparing food parcels for Gaza

The Al-Imdaad Foundation’s country director for Jordan Zakaria Al-Sheikh confirmed the trucks in the photo circulating on Facebook belonged to the foundation and were part of a larger convoy sent from Jordan to Gaza on April 7.

“The aid packages shown in the posts are actually our food parcels boxes with AIF logos, each food parcel containing 20 items of the much needed basic food commodities in Gaza, such as rice, sugar, flour, oil etc. NOT cigarettes,” he told AFP on April 23.

He dismissed social media posts as “deceptive and baseless”.

Al-Sheikh provided AFP with a photo showing the contents of a package, which can also be seen at the 1:27 mark of a video that the charity posted on YouTube on April 18.

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="Photo of items included in food parcels sent to Gaza, provided by AIF” data-src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim-4.jpg”><img alt="Photo of items included in food parcels sent to Gaza, provided by AIF” src=”https://thenewswave.xyz/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/facebook-posts-target-gaza-aid-agencies-with-baseless-cigarette-deliveries-claim-4.jpg” class=”caas-img”>

Photo of items included in food parcels sent to Gaza, provided by AIF

“The Al-Imdaad Foundation has never purchased cigarettes or any tobacco-related products in our 20-year history,” he said.

He added that goods sent to Gaza undergo inspection by Jordanian authorities and other organisations before entering the territory.

“The notion that cigarettes would be admitted into Gaza by humanitarian NGOs is completely unfounded and beyond our belief.”

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