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Claim: A photo shows Argentine-born football player Lionel Messi supposedly holding the Israeli flag.
Rating: ALTERED IMAGE
Why we fact-checked this: The altered image has gained 850 comments, 780 shares, 8,600 likes, and 664,200 views as of writing.
The photo was posted on X (formerly Twitter) on November 1 by user Gad Saad (@GadSaad), a verified account holder with over 765,000 followers. Saad is a marketing professor based in Canada and a published author.
The photo circulated amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The facts: The photo showing Messi holding the national flag of Israel was digitally altered. This image does not appear anywhere on Messi’s official and verified Instagram account.
In the original photo, Messi was holding a placard with text that reads: “Icons.com signed by the world’s best.”
Icons.com is a retailer of signed sports memorabilia and is Messi’s official and exclusive worldwide signing partner and licensee. It offers items such as jerseys and shoes signed by the football star.
Icons.com also has partnerships with Premier League clubs such as Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester, among others.
Israel-Hamas disinformation: As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, altered images and false claims have spread rapidly on social media to push certain narratives and sow confusion. On X, 74% of viral disinformation came from “verified accounts.” (READ: What you need to know about disinformation in the Israel-Hamas war)
Since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on October 7, over 8,500 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s November 1 report. (TIMELINE: Conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza)
As Israeli troops advanced towards Gaza City, the United Nations on October 31 called for an immediate ceasefire and for unimpeded humanitarian access to “meet the urgent needs created by the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.”
“Civilians have borne the brunt of the current fighting from the outset. Protection of civilians on both sides is paramount and must be respected at all times,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.
Rappler has debunked several false claims about the Israel-Hamas conflict:
- FACT CHECK: China calls for end to Israel-Hamas conflict
- FACT CHECK: Viral video of child rescue not from Israel-Hamas war
- FACT CHECK: Video of ‘Israel-Palestine conflict’ is just a game simulation
- FACT CHECK: Video shows Polish religious gathering, not pro-Israel rally
- FACT CHECK: ‘Video’ of Israel-Hamas war uses clip from shooting game
– James Patrick Cruz/Rappler.com
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