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'Ukrainian girl confronting a Russian soldier' is actually Palestine's Ahed Tamimi

Many online slammed the mix-up, saying a clip of the Palestinian activist drew sympathy and was thought to be from Ukraine because she is 'white-passing'
Ahed Tamimi gestures in front of an Israeli soldier in 2012, during a protest against the confiscation of Palestinian land by Israel in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh (AFP)

Old footage of Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian activist arrested in 2017 by Israel, has been widely shared online under the false claim that she is a Ukrainian girl standing up to a Russian soldier.

Images from a 2012 incident show Tamimi, then aged 11, confronting an Israeli soldier, gesturing as if to punch him.

However, many on Twitter shared the pictures with false information that it is from Ukraine.

On the short-form video platform TikTok, a clip of the same confrontation between Tamimi and the soldier asks viewers to pray for Ukraine. So far, the clip has been viewed over 12 million times and has accumulated just over 800,000 likes. 

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Tamimi has often been referred to as an icon of the Palestinian resistance. She garnered widespread media attention in 2017 when she was arrested following an altercation with Israeli soldiers who refused to leave her home in Nabi Saleh, a village in the occupied West Bank. 

Tamimi, who was 16 years old at the time, was sentenced to eight months in an Israeli prison as a minor, making headlines around the world. 

At the time of her release, Tamimi paid tribute to the women incarcerated in Israeli prisons and said she was planning to become a lawyer to help further the Palestinian cause. 

The false information spread alongside footage of Tamimi angered many social media users who see a double standard in how the footage was received.

“I guess Palestinian kids are only heroic when mistaken as European?” one Twitter user asked.

Another Twitter user called for people to “stop using Palestinians as props”.

Western media coverage of Russia’s invasion has been slammed by many online for using racist tropes, often expressing sorrow for "civilized" Europeans and comparing them with refugees from the Middle East.

Many online said the video of Tamimi has gone viral again under this new - if false - context because she is "white-passing".

Earlier this week, David Sakvarelidze, Ukraine’s former deputy general prosecutor, sparked outrage when he spoke to the BBC about Russia’s invasion saying “it’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed”.

This is not the first time that old, unrelated footage has been confused with the Russian invasion since the start of the conflict.

Much misleading footage linked to the Russia-Ukraine crisis has come from the Middle East. Multiple videos and images from Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Palestine have all falsely been attributed to the Russian invasion.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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