Fact Check

Photo Shows Benjamin Netanyahu in Hospital with COVID-19?

Social media posts claimed the prime minister of Israel contracted a "severe mutated strain of the coronavirus."

Published March 4, 2024

 (X user @Nadira_ali12)
Image courtesy of X user @Nadira_ali12
A photograph shared in early March 2024 shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the hospital for COVID-19.

In early March 2024, a photograph spread on X (formerly Twitter), allegedly showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a hospital bed. "Urgent Update: Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu is reportedly in a grave condition after contracting a severe mutated strain of the coronavirus. The situation is said to be critically serious," one X post read. 

(X user @SilentlySirs)

Google reverse-image search results showed that the photograph had been shared online at least since 2016. We found that it was a digitally edited version of an authentic photo shared in October 2015 on Netanyahu's official Facebook profile. The edited version featured Netanyahu's face pasted over that of the original subject, so it looked as if the prime minister were the person lying in the hospital bed. We found no reports in reputable sources stating that Netanyahu was hospitalized with COVID-19.

The original post said the photograph showed Sara Netanyahu, Netanyahu's wife, visiting the patient, Adel Bennett, who was injured in a terrorist attack. We translated the post using Google Translate:

Today, my wife Sara visited Adel Bennett and her son Natan, who were injured in the terrorist attack that happened in Jerusalem last Saturday night, at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. My wife talked at length with Adel and her parents, asked her to tell about the terrible attack and strengthened her in dealing with the long and difficult process she is facing. My wife stated that she would ask the state to extend any help to help the family.

"Adele is extraordinary in her bravery and her greatness of spirit," my wife said today at the end of the visit, "she went through agony in the minutes she ran wounded and knew she had to save her children, in the face of unparalleled cruelty. It is impossible to define in human terms the evil and cruelty on the part of those who were there, who stood filled with deep hatred. This is murder, this is slaughter. Each and every one on that street who abused her, laughed at her and kicked her, or drank a can of Coke in the face of this horror - each and every one of them is the most despicable murderer there can be. I hope that everyone will face their punishment and that Jews They won't face slaughter like that, which I don't wish on anyone."

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported in 2015 that "Rabbi Aharon Banita-Bennett, 22, of Beitar Illit was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist near Lion's Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday evening. His wife and 2-year-old son were wounded."

All in all, because the photograph was flipped horizontally and edited so that Benjamin Netanyahu's face was superimposed over that of the female patient, we rate this image as "Fake." 

(Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו Facebook profile, X user @SilentlySirs)

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.