Fact Check-Rahaf al-Masri, 10, was killed in the recent Israel-Hamas conflict – but photo shared on social media is not the same girl

Social media users sharing news of a young girl killed during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict have used an incorrect picture of the child. The image is, in fact, of an unidentified girl photographed in 2015.

More than 21,600 people have liked the miscaptioned photo on Twitter, which was posted on May 11, 2021, with the tweet: “Say her name: Rahaf Al Masry. Age: 6 years. Her short sweet life taken away by an American bomb dropped by Israeli fighter jet. Do tell me why Rahaf needed to be murdered.” (here).

The same day, the image was liked 2,200 times as part of a Facebook post that read: “Rahaf Al-Masry, 6 years old, she is killed by Israeli army yesterday. I wonder what was her fault for being killed” (here).

Twenty-four hours later, the photo had been tweeted by a former Sunday Times journalist (here) and an erstwhile deputy prime minister of Turkey (here , here).

On May 28, The New York Times put the same image on its front page alongside pictures of 63 other children said to have died in recent fighting between Israel and Hamas (here).

The error was quickly noticed by an open source agency (here) and a self-described pro-Israel activist (here); however, some posts failed to correctly identify the source of the photo (here , here).

A Google reverse image search reveals the photo was taken in 2015 by a photographer called Maiar Abu Shalback (here). It was featured at the time in an album that includes other pictures of the same girl (here and here).

Herbert Buchsbaum, the Times’ Middle East Editor, tweeted a correction on May 29, explaining that while a 10-year-old girl called Rahaf al-Masri had been killed in Gaza, the wrong image had been used on the outlet’s front page (here). Buchsbaum added that a photo of Rahaf had since been supplied by her family and had been published in an updated version of the article.

The Times reports that Rahaf was killed on May 10, the first night of the conflict, in a strike on Beit Hanoun. She died alongside her three cousins: Yazan al-Masri, 2, Marwan al-Masri, 6 and Ibrahim al-Masri, 11 (here). All four names were also read aloud by British MP Layla Moran during a recent parliament sitting (here).


Missing context. While a girl called Rahaf al-Masri was killed in Gaza during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, the viral photo shared with her name is not of the correct person. The New York Times has since published an authentic photograph of Rahaf that was supplied by her family.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .