Israel-Palestine conflict: How the Indian Right Wing spearheaded disinformation and propaganda – Alt News


“A pregnant woman in Southern Israel was found by Hamas terrorists. They dissected her body. Her stomach was cut open and they took the fetus out with the umbilical cord. And let the unborn child die slowly out of his mother’s womb. This is what inhuman savages Hamas do to people.”

Aditya Raj Kaul, the executive editor of TV9 Network, tweeted this on October 10. Seen in battle fatigues in his X (formerly Twitter) profile photo, Kaul has over 4 lakh followers on the platform. This tweet racked up over 32000 likes and more than 10 million views. Given the ghastly nature of violence ‘reported’ by Kaul, it was only expected. However, there’s a problem. If one goes through the comments under Kaul’s tweet, one would find several users expressing doubts over the veracity of Kaul’s claims. The tweet was flagged by Twitter’s community notes which stated that there was no proof of Hamas inflicting such violence upon an Israeli woman. The note pointed out that the said incident was similar to a report of the Sabra and Shatila massacre of Palestinian people by Israelis in 1982. Some accused Kaul of mirroring the violence inflicted on Kausar Banu during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

However, Kaul seemed quite nonchalant about the questions over the veracity of his ‘reporting’. “The context is given by Hamas terror supporters and not Twitter. Where does it say that if some crime has happened in 1992 it can’t happen again?”, he responded to a user, asking them not to become a supporter or spokesperson for Hamas. Kaul went on to assert that he didn’t need to present evidence of the incident because he had no obligation to “satisfy any politician.” In another tweet, he claimed that his friend Avishay, who is on-ground, had reported the incident to him. Avishay had also apparently shared photos with him but unfortunately, he couldn’t post the images.

It is practically impossible for journalists or fact-checkers to independently verify this sort of information amid a war that has seen such scale of violence as the present Israel-Hamas conflict. All that can be reasonably stated about this particular claim is that there isn’t enough evidence in the public domain to back it up. However, there is a tested appetite for such sensational claims which results in the type of traction that Kaul’s tweet got. We looked up the text from Kaul’s tweet on Twitter and found that over ten handles had used what is known as ‘copypasta’ – a tactic where a block of text is copied and pasted by several people to amplify a certain narrative. Upon looking up relevant keywords, we found hundreds of tweets with the same claim in November itself. None of them cared for the fact that the claim was unverified and unverifiable and that amplifying it essentially amounted to creating atrocity propaganda favouring Israel. What is more, those expressing their doubts were labelled by Kaul as supporters or spokespersons for Hamas.

Over the past one and a half months, Indian social media influencers who align themselves with the political Right have been on an overdrive sharing and amplifying pro-Israel propaganda on social media — misleading claims, unverifiable narratives, false quotes, old and unrelated photos and videos: misinformation and disinformation of almost every kind. This report will delve into the whos, the whys and the whats of this propaganda ecosystem.

India’s Official Stance vis-a-vis Israel & Palestine

As an initial response to the Hamas attack on October 7, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, like many other global leaders, expressed “deep shock” at the “news of terrorist attacks”. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour”, his tweet read. Five days later, Union external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi called for respect for international law and reiterated India’s position in favour of establishing a “sovereign, independent, and viable state of Palestine”.

On October 27, India abstained from voting in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on a resolution seeking a ceasefire in Gaza and unhindered humanitarian access to the war-ravaged region. This is somewhat in contrast with the pro-Palestine stance that India has historically taken since 1948.

India and Israel have had a chequered past, as far as diplomatic relations are concenrned. India’s struggle for independence in the 1940s resulted in a shared solidarity with the erstwhile British Mandate for Palestine. India proposed a plan in 1947 to create an independent federal state of Palestine, with safeguards to the Jewish minority. When the UNGA passed the 1947 resolution that recommended establishing the State of Israel alongside a Palestinian one, India was one of the few non-Arab countries that had voted against it. In 1974, India was the first non-Arab country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the “sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” India was also the first non-Arab country to recognize the State of Palestine when the PLO proclaimed it in 1988.

On the other hand, as far as Israel is concerned, in 1950 India was “in a position to move towards establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel” and Israel was formally recognized in India for the first time. However, it was only in 1992 that India granted full diplomatic recognition to Israel, setting up the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi.

Israel demonstrated its interest in providing arms and ammunition during the 1999 India-Pakistan war. In recent years, India has purchased about $2 billion worth of ammunition from Israel and is now the Israeli defence industry’s biggest foreign customer. In 2017, Narendra Modi became the first Indian PM to visit Israel, and Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to New Delhi in 2018. The bonhomie painted a perfect picture in the collective psyche of the Indian Right Wing, as its dream of an Akhand Bharat as a Hindu nation aligned perfectly with the religious-nationalist state of Israel.

Narendra Modi with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Olga Beach in Israel on July 06, 2017 | Source:

Months after the Israel visit, in 2018, Modi created history by becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. After holding talks with Palestinian chief of state Mahmoud Abbas, Modi said India hoped to see an “independent Palestinian state living in an environment of peace”. India also increased its contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Throughout, however, India has remained cognizant of potential diplomatic repercussions, prompting Modi to engage in discussions with various Arab Gulf leaders to align positions. Recently, India voted in favour of a UNGA resolution condemning Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

For the Indian Right Wing, Taking Sides has been Easy

Though the Indian government has treaded cautiously, the country’s Right Wing ecosystem, which has a robust social media presence, has wasted little time in deciding its stand on the present conflict. Sharing borders with Muslim countries that they perceive as hostile, and having a Muslim minority population at home, India and Israel mirror each others’ demographic anxieties. In the last 10 years of the Hindu-nationalist BJP’s rule in India, this anxiety has transformed into rampant Islamophobia and communal hatred visible in almost every sphere of life. In 41% of all the fact checks that Alt News did in 2022, the target of misinformation/disinformation was Muslims. The ongoing conflict has provided the Right Wing with an opportunity to amplify that Islamophobia. Consequently, the massacre of Palestinians — an overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims (see here and here) — by Israel in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attack has found strong support among the Hindu Right.

A large share of tweets with the hashtag #IStandWithIsrael came from Indian users and thousands of Indian accounts added the flag of Israel next to their X handles.

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Driven by their sense of animosity towards Palestinians, Indian Right Wing influencers on social media have gone on an overdrive disseminating misinformation and disinformation targeting Palestine since the Hamas attack on October 7. X witnessed a flood of old, unrelated photos, videos and unverifiable claims being linked to the ongoing conflict. In a bid to delegitimize support for Palestine, anyone speaking or demonstrating for Palestine and the human rights of Palestinians have been dubbed as ‘potential terrorists’ and accused of defending Hamas. There have been instances of Indian users sharing pro-Palestine misinformation, but these are minuscule in proportion, compared to the counter-narrative.

Several national and international media outlets have reported how Indian turned out to be a hotbed of misinformation related to the ongoing war. Al Jazeera wrote, “… the Israel-Hamas war has given a massive reach to social media accounts in India – both large and small – that have managed to ride a wave of anti-Muslim and pro-Israel fervour.” The Diplomat noted, “While this exploitation of international events to fuel domestic events is not new, what can be observed is the emergence of a voluntary and decentralized disinformation campaign by Hindu nationalists in support of Israel. Calling themselves “digital champions” of Israel, individual accounts with large followings push unverified one-sided news against Hamas, which have gained substantial momentum online… As the current conflict unfolds, Israel’s intense retaliation toward Hamas and the deadly strikes against Gaza are being co-opted by Hindu nationalists to advance their anti-Muslim agenda.”

Indian fact-checking website Boomlive spoke to several journalists from the Arab region, including from the West Bank-based fact-checking organization Kashif, and all of them named India as the top three regions they were monitoring to debunk claims about Israel and Palestine, Boom noted in a recent report.

Two of the three reports noted above mentioned the unverified claims made by TV9 journalist Aditya Raj Kaul.

Old, Unrelated Media

As is common during times of conflict, social media was flooded with unrelated images and photos being linked to the ongoing war. Alt News has debunked around 40 such claims.

A recurrent pattern noticeable in the anti-Palestine misinformation shared by Indian users is the usage of terms like ‘Jihad‘, ‘terrorists‘ and the likes. These are terms that are commonly described by Indian Right Wing influencers to refer to Muslims. In a lot of cases, the October 7 attack by Hamas had been generalized under the garb of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ while Right Wing accounts shared unrelated videos to assert that Israel had effectively countered such terrorism. The use of hashtags like #IslamIsTheProblem was also seen.

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A graphic video of a member of a Mexican Cartel extracting a man’s heart from his body and eating it went viral with the claim that a Hamas terrorist was inflicting such atrocities on an Israeli citizen. Indian users amplified this claim, garnering thousands of likes and retweets. “Wake Up! These are monsters!” read Indian-origin user @JIX5A’s tweet. Readers can find our fact-check here.

Clips from the military tactical shooter video game ARMA 3 were being falsely linked to the ongoing crisis. For instance, an ARMA 3 footage was circulated as being representative of Hamas fighters shooting down 4 Israeli war helicopters. Verified Indian-origin user @IacGaurav, who has close to 17000 followers on Twitter, was one of the individuals who shared the viral clip.

Alt News also debunked anti-Israel misinformation, but as pointed out earlier, such instances have been few and far between. A video of a group of soldiers in uniform forcefully detaining a young child was shared widely on social media. When a bystander was seen protesting, the officers pushed him off and whisked the boy away. RJ Sayema had tweeted the video with the caption, “Tears my heart apart! This is cruelty of unimaginable magnitude. Stop the bloodshed in Gaza.” In reality, the video is eight years old and shows 6-year-old Abdullah Lutfi Yusuf being taken away by Israeli soldiers from a Palestinian refugee camp. Abdullah was released after being detained for several hours. Read Alt News fact-check here.

The #Pallywood Conspiracy Theory

As the war intensified, the various official handles of the state of Israel and pro-Israel influencers and social media users tried to question Palestine’s claims of the human cost of the war on their side. The word ‘Pallywood’, a portmanteau of Palestine and Hollywood, has been used as a hashtag to make the suggestion that Palestinians are faking and play-acting injury and death.

On October 25, US President Joe Biden said in a statement that he had “no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using” for the death toll in the Gaza Strip. “What they say to me is I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s the price of waging a war”, Biden said.

On X, pro-Israel Indian users, many of them Right Wing influencers with large followings, have questioned and even mocked Palestine’s claims of death and destruction, with or without the #Pallywood. In one instance, some users amplified old footage of a mock funeral to claim that Palestinians who were pretending to carry a dead body ran away when sirens started blaring. The dead body is seen running away as well. The Alt News fact check of this misleading claim can be read here.

Going a step further, some Right Wing accounts went to the length of denying well-documented cases of deaths of Palestinians. They tried to establish the narrative that actual scenes of death were staged visuals with people play-acting death. For instance, a video of a dead Palestinian child being carried out of the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza was circulated online with the claim that it was a doll. Indian users including prominent Right Wing influencers, propaganda outlets, and journalists amplified the claim. “#Hamasterrorist’s propaganda failed badly,” remarked one such influencer. The fact-check can be read here.

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In a similar instance, a clip from a CNN report of a shrouded corpse was circulated online with users claiming that the dead body was caught ‘moving its head’. Indian RW influencer Arun Pudur was one of them. The Palestinian journalist who shot the viral footage refuted the viral claim in a statement to Alt News and an Alt News investigation found the viral allegations were baseless. Our fact check of this claim can be read here.

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In yet another instance of a false claim that Palestinians were faking casualties, a video of a Palestinian man on a hospital bed was circulated online with claims that it was Palestinian vlogger Saleh Aljafarawi. However, in reality, the video shows Saeed Zandek, a 16-year-old injured in an Israeli raid on Nur Shams refugee camp in July-August 2023. Neither was the video related to the current conflict nor was the man in the video an actor. Needless to say, several Right Wing influencers also actively amplified the viral misleading claim. One can read the Alt News investigation here.

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Unverifiable Claims

In several instances, journalists and media outlets, both international and Indian, carried reports/ updates based on unverified and unverifiable claims on social media. Such ‘reports’ ranged from allegations of ’40 babies being beheaded by Hamas militants’ to ‘baby put in the oven by Hamas militants,’ which were amplified without sufficient testimonies and verification, contributing to the spread of potentially inaccurate information. One may notice that such news items are often graphic in nature and have a tendency to attract more attention and viewership. It can be inferred that for these outlets, the thirst for viewership and sensationalism prevailed over the obligation to deliver accurate and verified information to their consumers.

Apart from journalist Aditya Raj Kaul (as discussed before), several other Indian users amplified the claim that a pregnant woman’s stomach was cut up and her baby was murdered by Hamas militants in Southern Israel. The tweets garnered thousands of likes and retweets.

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Indian media organisations including Mint, Wion and Zee News amplified this claim.

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In this backdrop, an old video from Mexico was also viral in an attempt to give credibility to this claim. The Alt News fact check of this can be read here.

Another sensational claim that spread like wildfire was that Hamas had beheaded 40 babies during its attack on October 7. A correspondent for the Israeli news outlet i24NEWS said in a video that Israeli soldiers had told her they had found “babies, their heads cut off.” In another tweet, the correspondent wrote that soldiers had told her they believed “40 babies/children were killed.” The connection between these two pieces of information led to the unverified narrative of “40 babies being beheaded.” In India, many news organisations and journalists reported this without attempting to independently verify the information.

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On October 11, major international media outlet CNN defended the viral claims and reported that Hamas had, in fact, beheaded babies, “confirmed” by a spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister’s office. The next day, the CNN reporter Sara Sidner issued an apology for the misleading report, acknowledging that the reports were not confirmed. In a subsequent report, CNN also reported that the Israeli government “has not confirmed the specific claim that Hamas attackers cut off the heads of babies during their shock attack” on October 7. “There have been cases of Hamas militants carrying out beheadings and other ISIS-style atrocities. However, we cannot confirm if the victims were men or women, soldiers or civilians, adults or children,” the official was quoted as saying said.

The Israeli army, too, denied the claim and said there was no information confirming the allegations that Hamas had “beheaded babies”.

Major Misinformation Peddlers

Some of the prominent Right Wing X handles which shared pro-Israel or anti-Palestine misinformation and disinformation have been listed here. With thousands of followers, these users could easily make their posts get massive traction and go viral on the microblogging site.

X User Raushan Sinha aka @MrSinha_

Better known by his Twitter handle @mrsinha_, Raushan describes himself as an Indian political commentator, expert on foreign policy, a journalist and a Hindu Rights Activist. He has been fact-checked by Alt News several times in the past. Since the October 7 attack by Hamas, Raushan has tweeted about the conflict at least 100 times in October itself. All of his tweets are pro-Israel.

He amplified the unverified claim that 40 babies were beheaded by Hamas. “Shame on those who are supporting these monsters”, he said in his tweet. He also tweeted about the pregnant woman whose stomach was allegedly cut open and the baby left to die, another unverified claim that has been discussed earlier in the story.

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On October 8, Sinha shared misleading footage of a boy being beheaded by Hamas. The footage was actually from 2016, filmed in Syria. Members of Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki had captured a child in Handarat near Aleppo and executed him on the back of a pickup truck. The Alt News fact-check can be read here. Sinha later deleted the tweet, but not before it was viewed close to 3 million times and retweeted over 14,000 times.

Sinha has also been instrumental in amplifying the Pallywood conspiracy theory. He shared the misleading claim that 4-year-old Omar killed in the conflict was a doll. Another misleading claim that he amplified was that a man seen intubated on a hospital bed was Palestinian influencer Saleh Aljafarawi. Both these false claims have been discussed earlier in this report.

Raushan also shared a video of an ISIS flag being waved at a pro-Palestine protest in London. Our investigation found the claim to be untrue. The flag was a Shahada flag, according to the Police.

X User @MeghUpdates

Another Indian user who has shared misleading claims related to the Israel-Palestine conflict regularly is @MeghUpdates. The user shared an image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his son and claimed that Netanyahu was sending his son to serve as a soldier. The tweet garnered 35,000 likes and over 6,000 retweets in two hours. The number of likes now stands at over 72000. The image is actually from December 1, 2014. Netanyahu’s youngest son had just begun his three-year mandatory military service and was accompanied by his parents as he arrived at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill. Here is the Alt News fact-check. (Archive)

Needless to say, this user has also shared old and unrelated footage in an attempt to prove that Palestinians were faking their injuries. He shared footage of a 2013 demonstration by students in Egypt and linked it to the ongoing war. One of the ‘corpses’ can be seen moving its arm in the video. The user shared claiming it shows fake dead bodies arranged by Hamas. However, the video is from Egypt’s Al-Azhar University where students protested against police and the army by posing as dead bodies in 2013. Here is the Alt News fact-check.

In a similar instance, the user shared a video that features a girl with a blood-smeared face and a man can be seen walking in the background with a camera. They amplified the video with the Pallywood label. In reality, the footage is a behind-the-scenes shot of a Lebanese film on Gaza. One can read the Alt News fact-check here.

Media misreports & False Claims by Journalists

Journalists, media houses and propaganda outlets, too, shared false and unverified claims targeting Palestine on a regular basis.

Editor-in-chief of Right Wing propaganda outlet Sudarshan News Suresh Chavhanke, who has been fact-checked by Alt News several times in the past, has disseminated misleading information related to the ongoing conflict as well. In one such instance, Chavhanke falsely shared a 2021 video of Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan tearing a 20-page United Nations report documenting Israel’s violation of human rights as recent, lauding Erdan for his move. ‘मर्दों वाली बात’ he said in his tweet. In another instance, he shared an old video of protesters scaling a fence on the Israel-Lebanon border and claimed that terrorists were entering Israel amid the war.

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Despite being fact-checked and having community notes attached to his tweets, Chavhanke has not taken down the misleading tweet.

Journalist Aditya Raj Kaul has also had a significant role to play in disseminating anti-Palestine propaganda. After the Israel Defense Force claimed that the headquarters of Hamas’ terrorist activities were located in the tunnels underneath Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Kaul tweeted a 2021 Russia Today Arabic report on the elaborate tunnel network in Gaza, linking it to the ongoing crisis. Like Chavhanke, Kaul has also not taken his tweet down despite being fact-checked. Our fact-check of this claim can be read here.

Kaul also tweeted a video from 2021 of a Pakistani politician threatening to bomb Israel, with the misleading claim that it was related to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. In the video, Sarwat Fatima, a Pakistani Member of the Provincial Assembly, discusses Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. Boomlive fact-checked the false claim by Kaul.

After being called out, Kaul put up a bizarre defense saying that the video was old but that ‘the confidence remains same’. “Pakistani politicians are as foolish and radical as it gets”, he added.

Yet another ‘journalist’ with over 500000 followers on Twitter and a consistent track record of spreading misinformation, Abhijit Majumder has had a significant hand in propagating pro-Israel propaganda. On October 26, he shared a six-year-old video of a Palestinian make-up artist working on actors for a film project with the misleading hashtag #Pallywood. Despite being fact-checked, Majumder has not taken down his tweet.

Majumder also amplified Right Wing user MeghUpdates’s misleading tweet wherein they used a behind-the-scenes shot of a Lebanese film on Gaza claiming that it was yet another example of Palestinians faking their injuries. The tweet is still live on Majumder’s profile.

Several mainstream media outlets have also amplified misleading claims and used old, unrelated footage to report on the ongoing crisis. In one such instance, the Press Trust of India (PTI), Deccan Herald,, Economic Times, The Telegraph, Times of India, and The Week falsely claimed that US President Joe Biden had cited the announcement of the India-Middle East Economic Corridor as a possible reason for Hamas attacking Israel while addressing a joint press conference at the White House. This claim was denied by the White House as well. One can read the fact-check here.

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The old video of protesters scaling a fence on the Israel-Lebanon border discussed before was used by ABP News in the backdrop of the Israel-Palestine war. The report has now been deleted.

Times Now had put out a report claiming that Iranian members of Parliament had chanted the slogans ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’ inside the Parliament. The video is actually from 2020 which shows anti-US slogans in the Iran Parliament. (Archive 1, 2)

Propaganda outlets like Sudarshan News and the RSS-run magazine Organizer Weekly have also been fact-checked by Alt News multiple times in the last month, in claims regarding the Israel-Palestine war. Sudarshan News tweeted a video showing five children being held prisoner in cages allegedly by Hamas militants. In reality, the video was uploaded in January 2020 on YouTube. Moreover, the cameraperson in the viral video can be heard laughing in the background. A more plausible scenario is that the father found his children playing inside chicken cages and he locked it to take a funny video. Sudarshan News has not taken their tweet down despite being fact-checked.

Organiser Weekly also amplified the 2021 Russia Today Arabic report on the tunnel network in Gaza, linking it to the ongoing crisisl. They also tweeted a 2022 video with the claim that Hamas supporters in Sweden resorted to violence amid the ongoing war. One can read the fact check here.

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