On 25 February 2017, the Gaza Post published a video about makeup artist Mariam Salah and her work in the Palestinian cinema special effects industry:
This video was later repurposed by propagandists and shared as if it captured a group of people attempting to “stage” fake wounds and injuries in an attempt to fool the public about atrocities supposedly committed in either Israel or war-torn Syria. Some versions of this footage were edited to remove the interview segments and make the video appear more like a documentary and less like a news segment:
في غرف المكياج
قبل انتقالهم الى الرفيق الاعلى 😂😂
تمثليه رابعه من تاني 😂😂
الاخوان مصريين ع غبائهم 😂😂
مفيش تغير منهجهم استمر في الغباء حتي يصدقني الخرفان والحمير 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/kwlRyxdLk3
— MOHAMED 🇪🇬 HAREDY (@MOHAMEDHAREDY39) February 23, 2018
Facebook pages such as אזרחים נגד מציאות הטרור (“Citizens Against the Reality of Terrorism”) and “The Palestinian Lie” labeled the footage a “fraud” and claimed that this makeup artist was going to great lengths in an attempt to “make their oppression more believable” and to “deceive us all”:
Palestinian/Gaza makeup artist masterfully creating gory wounds through makeup application for photo op to present to the unsuspecting, clueless world and deceive us all. Anything to make their ‘oppression’ more believable, anything to fool the world. Chew on that for a minute. The lengths they go to.
The latest fraud by residents of Gaza
Despite these claims, we found no evidence that this video material was created in an attempt to “deceive” the public about atrocities allegedly committed against Palestinians by Israelis, or to prove that the hundreds of people reportedly killed in Ghouta (southwestern Syria) in early 2017 were “actors” who had faked their deaths.
In fact, numerous images from this video run counter to those arguments. For instance, several people in the clip are shown wearing shirts for a “special effect make-up” outfit, which would certainly be an odd choice of garb if the goal were to fool the world that the displayed injuries were actually real and not a creation of artistic tradecraft. The makeup artists are also seen openly speaking with the news channel about their work, which would be another unusual choice if what was depicted was supposed to be a secret endeavor:
The Turkish Broadcast Network TRT World also featured footage from this production on “Showcase,” an arts and culture program, in March 2017. This English-language broadcast focused on how Salah was breaking gender barriers in Palestine and explained that the video material showed Salah working on a project with the human rights group Doctors of the World:
Here’s how the TRT presenter introduced that segment:
Presenter: There aren’t many film productions in the Gaza Strip but that didn’t stop makeup artist Mariam Salah from following her dream. She taught herself how to make fake blood for Palestinian films, breaking into a business traditionally run by men.
While on a film set on the Gaza strip, makeup artist Mariam Salah is creating horrific looking injuries on actors taking part in a project by French charity Doctors of the World. They hope to raise awareness of the dangers facing Gaza residents.
Numerous people can also be seen wearing shirts reading Medicins Du Monde (Doctors of the World) in this video, and a large sign bearing the words “Simulation” can be seen on a tent. Again, if the purpose of this effort were to trick the world into believing that fabricated injuries were real, its perpetrators wouldn’t be openly advertising that they shot supposedly incriminating footage on the set of a film production:
This isn’t the first time that images from a film set have been misrepresented and shared as if they showed actors “staging” injuries to deceive the public. Shortly after a chemical attack in Syria in April 2018, a series of images from the film set of Revolution Man made their way around the internet as if they showed “crisis actors.”