Honest Reporting expose: How the media use bars in their images to promote the impression of Palestinians as “prisoners” of Israeli brutality

CiF Watch has previously reported on the Guardian’s manipulation of photos in the service of desired narratives, and demonstrated that images don’t necessarily need to be photo-shopped or cropped (what’s become known as “fauxtography“) to mislead or distort.

Here is part 3 of an illuminating photo expose by the media watchdog group Honest Reporting:

  • Wire service photographers use clever photographic techniques to present a false impression that enhances images of Palestinian “suffering”.
  • The use of bars in such images is a widespread method of portraying Palestinians as “prisoners” of Israeli occupation and brutality.
What could be more symbolic of suffering and mistreatment than the image of small children behind bars?  Particularly in reference to Gaza, which is regularly portrayed as a vast ‘open air prison’.

For example, The Independent chose to illustrate the story below with an image from AFP/Getty.  The caption:

Children join the protest in Gaza City yesterday as Palestinians demanded an end to the siege.


This is but one example of how wire agency photographers resort to using camera angles and staging techniques to present a distorted (and worse) picture of a given situation.

In the example above, it is clear that the photographer used this technique to project an image of Gazan children imprisoned.  However, the sequence of photos taken from the same scene at the time illustrates how the effect was achieved.

What we see above is a tiny group of Palestinian children arriving at what appears to be a pre-planned photo-op outside the Gaza industrial area presumably organized by Hamas. The photographer either willingly colludes with Hamas or is used.
Next, the children have been positioned behind a gate to give the effect of a prison.

However, using a great deal of skill to get the right position with the right lens from the right angle, the photographer manages to create an impression of many more than the five or so children in the actual shot.

The same children appear in the remaining two images from the sequence, again highlighting how the entire event was staged.  The same technique of shooting from below and to the side is employed to give the impression that there are actually more people involved than the reality.

Written By
More from Adam Levick

Sounds Israeli: The music of ‘The Idan Raichel Project

Idan Raichel burst on to the Israeli musical scene in 2003, inviting...
Read More