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Old photos show Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah meeting in Cairo, not Beijing

In World
May 15, 2024

China’s foreign ministry said rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah met for talks in Beijing in April 2024 but social media posts lauding Beijing shared old pictures they falsely claimed showed the meeting. The foreign ministry had not identifed the representatives from Hamas and Fatah who met in Beijing as of May 15, 2024. The pictures in the posts were taken when Hamas and Fatah leaders met for talks in Egypt’s capital Cairo in October 2017.

Historic moment! Hamas and Fatah have been feuding for 18 years but they actually shook hands and made peace in Beijing…China is such a peacemaker!” read a Weibo post shared on April 28, 2024.

Similar posts on Facebook and social media platform X shared two other pictures of the leaders meeting.

Representatives for Hamas and Fatah met in Beijing in April for “in-depth and candid talks on promoting intra-Palestinian reconciliation,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lin Jian said on April 30. 

Islamist movement Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after ferocious fighting with its rivals in Fatah, which maintains partial administrative control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank through the Palestinian Authority.

Beijing has been calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war, sparked by Hamas’s October 7, 2023 attack on Israel which resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed more than 35,170 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly women and children, the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said on Tuesday.

However, China’s Lin did not identify the representatives from Hamas and Fatah who met in Beijing.

The ministry had not released official pictures of the meeting as of May 15, 2024.

Cairo talks

Reverse image searches on Google and keyword searches found the three pictures circulating online were old and misrepresented in the posts.

They were all distributed by AFP and show a meeting between Hamas and Fatah officials in the Egyptian capital Cairo in October 2017.

One photo showing two men shaking hands was taken by an AFP photographer Khaled Desouki and can be viewed in AFP’s archives.

Its caption read in part: “Fatah’s Mazama al-Ahmad (R) and Saleh al-Aruri (L) of Hamas shake hands after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements ended their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt.”

Desouki also took the second photo showing the men signing a document during the same meeting in Cairo.

Below are screenshot comparisons between the photos shared in the false posts (left) and the original pictures from AFP (right):

Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement on October 12, 2017 on ending a decade-long split following talks mediated by Egypt in Cairo, with president Mahmud Abbas calling it a “final” accord, AFP reported at the time.

The agreement was signed by Hamas deputy leader at the time Salah al-Aruri and Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Fatah delegation for the talks, at the headquarters of Egypt’s intelligence service, which oversaw the negotiations.

An Israeli strike killed Saleh al-Aruri in Beirut in January 2024, according to a US Defense Department official.

The third photo, showing the two leaders kissing, was also from the same meeting.

It was taken by the Nurphoto press agency and distributedby AFP with a similar caption as the other two photos.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo shared with the false claim (left) and the corresponding picture in AFP Forum (right):

AFP has fact-checked more misinformation around the Israel-Hamas war here.

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