Fact Check

Viral Video Shows Palestinian Girl, Not Ukrainian, Confronting Soldier

A 2012 video of young Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi was repurposed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, nearly a decade later.

Published Mar 1, 2022

Palestinian Ahed Tamimi (C) gestures in front of an Israeli soldier on November 02, 2012, during a protest against the confiscation of Palestinian land by Israel in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah. - Israel's army arrested Ahed Tamimi on December 19, 2017, after a video went viral of her slapping Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank as they remained impassive. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP) (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images) (Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images
Claim:
Video clips and screenshots shared widely in 2022 showed a Ukrainian girl confronting a Russian soldier.

During the early days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in February and March 2022, social media users enthusiastically shared video footage and still photos which they described as showing a Ukrainian girl berating and attempting to punch a much larger and fully-armed Russian soldier. 

For example, one Feb. 27 tweet consisted of two screenshots from a video: one that showed a girl shouting at a soldier; the other that showed her pulling back her fist, as if about to punch the soldier, while a tank appears to idle in the background. The tweet's caption read:

"An 8 year [old] Ukraine [sic] girl confronts a Russian soldier telling him to go back to his country..."

Those screenshots were authentic, and not the result of digital editing, but they were taken from a nearly decade-old video of an encounter between an Israeli soldier and Palestinian girl, and had no connection whatsoever to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. As such we are issuing a rating of "Miscaptioned."

Similar video clips and screenshots — all falsely describing the context of the incident — were shared widely on social media in February and March 2022.

In reality, the original footage was first posted online in November 2012, and appears to have been captured by Palestinian journalist Samer Nazzal. A six-minute recording of the encounter between Israeli soldiers and Ahed Tamimi, who was then 12 years old, can be watched below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWlxLq-2RQA
 
According to the Arabic and English captions included by Nazzal, Tamimi was confronting the soldiers about the well-being and whereabouts of her 15-year-old brother, who had reportedly been arrested some time earlier. The incident took place near the West Bank village of Nabi Salih.

In the intervening decade, Tamimi has become something of a cult figure among supporters of the Palestinian cause, frequently appearing in videotaped confrontations with Israeli soldiers. In 2017 and 2018, she spent eight months in prison after being convicted of assault for slapping two Israeli soldiers.


Sources:
 
8 Year Ukrainian Girl Confronts a Russian Soldier Telling Him to Go Back to His Country. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE9uSD2lPn0. Accessed 1 Mar. 2022.
 
“After Prison Release, Palestinian Teen Considers Law Study.” AP NEWS, 21 Apr. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/west-bank-ahed-tamimi-israel-middle-east-international-news-02ac4f3b0ec14f5da2f053e76a9c5a02.
 
Serhan, Yasmeen. “A Symbol of the Palestinian Resistance for the Internet Age.” The Atlantic, 5 Jan. 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/internet-famous-in-the-west-bank/549557/.
 
VIDEO: “Go Back to Your Country”: Brave Little Girl Confronts Invading Putin’s Army #putin #ukraine. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2tXWEZjy0A. Accessed 1 Mar. 2022.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.

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