Since Hamas carried out its deadly attack on October 7 and Israel began retaliatory military operations in Gaza, a parallel war is being fought online. A barrage of disinformation, fake news and misinformation has swarmed social media feeds. Pro-Israeli accounts on social media are using the term "Pallywood" to accuse Palestinians of faking their suffering.
Amid the thick fog of this information war, one word has consistently come out from behind the haze. Pro-Israeli accounts online have been deploying the word “Pallywood” as a means to undermine the plight of Gazans.
A blend of the words “Palestine” and “Hollywood”, the term insinuates that stories of suffering coming from Gaza are contrived or embellished for propaganda purposes. The accusations range from hiring crisis actors, to doctoring footage and editing it in a dishonest way that misrepresents reality.
Detractors argue the pejorative term is a deliberate attempt to delegitimise the very real hardships endured by Gazans, and to dehumanise Palestinian lives.
A Gazan caught in the crosshairs
At the heart of the Pallywood claims made by pro-Israeli accounts online is one young Gazan in particular, Saleh Al-Jafarawi. He has repeatedly been accused of being a “crisis actor” working for Hamas who allegedly stages scenes to make himself look like a victim.
“But in Pallywood, it’s a reversal of positivity. The idea is that Palestinians are uniquely deceptive. It’s meant to capture a culture… but in this case, in a negative way,” he says.
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