Israel army publishes fake image of huge “Gaza shopping mall”

An enormous shopping mall the Israeli army claims is in the Gaza Strip. (Source: IDF Blog)

In one of its periodic efforts to deny the devastating effects of its siege of Gaza, the Israeli occupation army published a blog post on 12 August claiming that Palestinians in Gaza are “out in force, enjoying themselves in sparkling new malls, beautiful beaches and hotels, and doing their shopping in pristine grocery stores and markets heaving with fresh produce.”

The “IDF blog” includes the impressive photo above of a shopping mall where Palestinians in Gaza are supposedly shopping for the latest imported fashions.

I showed the photo to The Electronic Intifada’s correspondent in Gaza, Rami Almeghari. His reaction: “I can assure you that there is no such mall in Gaza.” Rami is quite right.

Fake image

If you do a Google Image search using the image from the “IDF” blog post, the same image turns up associated with the Metro Plaza shopping mall in Kolkata, India as well as several other places.

A Google image search turned up many examples, like this one, of the image associated with other malls.

Where is it really?

But the “Gaza mall” photo published by the Israeli army is actually an image of the Suria KLCC Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as numerous user-generated photographs on the travel review site TripAdvisor.com attest.

You can also see many people shopping at the mall – in Malaysia – in this video:

Israeli army sources: anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic blogs

Before publishing it on 12 August on its English-language website, the Israeli army published the same post in French on 4 August.

It was then published by the anti-Palestinian website Tribune Juive the same day.

But some of the material had already circulated on many other Islamophobic websites long before.

For example, the same Kuala Lumpur mall photo, purportedly in Gaza, appeared on a virulently Islamophobic blog called “Barenaked Islam” in April 2012, and was disseminated on Facebook by “Geert Wilders supporters,” a page dedicated to the Islamophobic Dutch politician.

It also appeared on “Religion of Peace,” another anti-Muslim hate site.

It would appear that the Israeli army gets its information about Gaza from Islamophobic hate sites.

Forced dependency

The Kuala Lumpur shopping mall is vastly bigger than any commercial facility anywhere in Gaza.

But another image, the supermarket shown on the “IDF” blog, appears to be the Metro supermarket in Gaza. I didn’t visit it, but I did visit the Abu Dallal supermarket in Nuseirat refugee camp.

I was told that Abu Dallal is one of largest supermarkets in Gaza. By American, European, or Jordanian standards it is not very big, smaller than an average CVS or Boots drugstore.

More important than its size, however, is that like other stores in Gaza, it is packed full of Israeli goods.

That’s one of the ways the Israeli blockade creates dependency: While Gaza industry and agriculture are devastated by the siege, Israel is happy enough to see its own companies profiting from people in Gaza, siphoning off what little income they have, whether from work, humanitarian aid or remittances abroad, by selling them Israeli goods.

Poverty and dependency are the real effects of siege

But Israel is much more restrictive when it comes to supplies that meet basic needs and could allow Gaza to move out of dependency. There is, for example, a shortage of 250 schools for Gaza’s children, which cannot be built due to the lack of building supplies.

And the reality is that while there is food in Gaza, “severe poverty has increased over years of closure and because of travel restrictions,” Gisha, an Israeli nongovermental organization that monitors the siege, noted in a recent factsheet.

More than 70 percent of the Gaza population receives some form of humanitarian aid, compared with one third in the year 2000.

For imports of raw materials and many basic goods, Gaza’s economy remains heavily dependent on underground tunnels to Egypt, as I saw myself during my visit, and as Gisha also documents.

Since the Egyptian military coup on 3 July, the Egyptian army, which works closely with Israel, has been instensifying its effort to destroy the tunnels.

Exports crushed

Israel continues to crush Gaza’s export industries. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has allowed a total of 94 trucks out of Gaza in 2013 – that’s about a dozen a month from a population of almost 1.7 million people. Insignificant.

By contrast, in 2007, the year before the siege began to bite, more than 5,000 trucks were allowed out of Gaza. In 2001 it was 15,000.

Cynical propaganda

The Israeli army’s cynical propaganda is supposed to distract people from the fact that the vast majority of people in Gaza live in deep poverty and a very precarious economic situation, without electricity for 8-12 hours per day, and depend on humanitarian aid, due to Israel.

Gaza’s per capita annual GDP is just over $1,000 dollars. Compare that with $32,800 for Israel.

The lesson: learn the facts and don’t be taken in by Israeli army fabrications.

Update: 15 August

Following the publication of this post, the Israeli army removed the photo and told Israel’s Haaretz that it had been a mistake made in “good faith.”

It also tweeted out an acknowledgment that the photo was “incorrectly sourced” – though without noting that its source was an Islamophobic hate site peddling fabrications and anti-Palestinian propaganda.

Here is a screenshot of the entire “IDF blog” post before the Israeli army altered it.

With thanks to Twitter user @sallyidwedar who initially spotted “IDF” fakery, and Omar Ghraieb for answering my queries about Gaza’s supermarkets.

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Comments

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Wow....I am speechless. I wonder why I didn't recognise the photograph as coming from Suria KLCC, a place that I frequently hang out on weekends. As a Malaysian, I am truly offended and upset that the Zionist entity had used a photo of a shopping mall IN MY COUNTRY to smear and disparage the Gazans who are under a brutal army siege!

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It is nearly impossible to avoid Israeli goods in Gaza. IF we refused to accept the goods Gaza would be in a very desperate situation. Sometimes there is no other choice but to purchase the Israeli product -would you let your children go hungry or be sick? I hope this changes soon but it is the reality here.

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Sure, but why not just buy Egyptian goods instead, using Egyptian currency? I'm sure the Egyptians could do with the business.

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Why would we do that? We are not Egypt- we are Palestine. Plus we do not have open trade/border with Egypt.

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Surely it would be preferable to buy Egyptian goods in Egyptian currency than to buy Israeli goods in Israeli currency. Egypt is an Arab country after all. Or as you say, use a Palestinian currency that Egyptians could then use to buy produce from Gaza.

But you say there is no trade/open border with Egypt? Why is that? Surely it is more open than the border with Israel??

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Because of issues between Hamas and Egypt.

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That picture appears to have been removed from the blog post

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"According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has allowed a total of 94 trucks out of Gaza in 2013 – that’s about a dozen a month from a population of almost 1.7 million people. Insignificant.

By contrast, in 2007, the year before the siege began to bite, more than 5,000 trucks were allowed out of Gaza. In 2001 it was 15,000."

What changed from 2001 to 2007 to 2013?

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The motto of the Mossad is, I'm pretty sure, "By way of deception". This clearly applies to the Israeli Army as well. Deception, spin, relentless settlement building, a brutal occupation, and apartheid, is what we get from Israel all the time. They have succeeded in getting the US and Canada to be their benefactors and protectors as well. Shame on us.

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the world whether muslim or non muslim ....everyone should hang our heads in shame at the continued oppression and injustice perpetrated against the people of Palestine

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The world is beset by many natural disasters, but Palestine is the world's longest (65 years) Israeli-made UNNATURAL disaster.

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"..the "luxury hotel" "
Perhap this:
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/H...

By the way, the Israeli army removed the photos again( slideshows "4. Your local food stand to grab a bite to eat" and "6. …And out on the town to see some Gaza nightlife").
I don't know when they did it...

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.