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Photo of deceased children is from Syria in 2013, not Israel-Hamas war | Fact check

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Explosion kills hundreds of Palestinian patients at Gaza hospital
The Health Ministry run by Hamas blamed Israel for the hospital blast in Gaza that killed hundreds. Israel denied any involvement.

An Oct. 14 Facebook post (direct link, archive link) includes a photo of deceased children it claims was taken amid the Israel-Hamas war. 

“CHILD GENOCIDE IN PALESTINE,” reads the post. “614 Palestinian children murdered by the Israeli IOF Forces.” 

It was shared more than 40 times in four days. Other versions of the claim were shared widely on Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter. Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar also reposted a version of the claim on X, as reported by outlets including the National Review and the New York Post.

Fact check roundup: Israel-Hamas war sparks many misleading claims online. Here’s what’s true and false.

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This photo predates the Israel-Hamas war that began in October by more than a decade. It was taken after a chemical weapons attack in Syria in 2013. 

The photo matches one used in a National Geographic article from 2013. The image’s caption says it shows deceased children after a chemical weapons attack near Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21, 2013. 

United Press International and AFP’s photo archives also describe the photo as showing the aftermath of a chemical weapons attack in Syria in 2013.

The Obama administration issued a report later that month saying the U.S. government had “high confidence” the Syrian government was behind the attack. A preliminary assessment reported the strike killed more than 1,400 people, including at least 400 children.

Fact check: Altered video used to make false claim CNN staged Israel-Hamas coverage

Children have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war, though exact figures vary.

UNICEF told CNN on Oct. 14 that more than 700 Palestinian children had been killed, according to local sources. It came a day after the organization more vaguely said “hundreds and hundreds of children” had been killed, in a statement that also called for an immediate ceasefire. 

Defense for Children International, an organization focused on protecting children’s rights worldwide, said on Oct. 16 that more than 1,000 Palestinian children had been killed since the conflict began on Oct. 7. 

A widely-spreading version of the claim was posted on X by a self-proclaimed journalist under the name Sulaiman Ahmed. The same account previously posted a false claim that Israeli forces destroyed a historic church in Gaza. USA TODAY has debunked that claim and an array of others surrounding the Israel-Hamas war, including false assertions that the Israeli defense minister said the country had “abolished” the rules of war and that a video shows Russian President Vladimir Putin warning the U.S. not to get involved in the conflict.

USA TODAY reached out to users who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

AFP, Reuters and Lead Stories also debunked the claim. 

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