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:
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.