FACT CHECK: X Image Purporting To Show Netanyahu Undergoing Surgery Is AI-Generated

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on X purports to show Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu undergoing surgery.

Verdict: False

The claim is false. Misbar reported the image has been generated with artificial intelligence (AI) on April 6. Additionally, a media forensics and AI expert denied the image’s authenticity in an email to Check Your Fact.

Fact Check:

A central Israeli resident was recently “arrested on suspicion of incitement to assassinate Netanyahu,” according to the Times of Israel. The suspect allegedly made posts on Telegram inciting terrorism as well as violence against Netanyahu, the outlet reported.

“The evil Israeli leader #Netanyahu is in hospital undergoing surgery, while opposition rallies carry on outside,” the X image’s caption reads. The image, viewed over 7,000 times, purports to show Netanyahu wearing a medical mask with a tube attached and lying in a hospital bed.

The claim is false. Check Your Fact conducted a content detection scan using the website “Hive Moderation” and the results indicate the image is not likely to be AI-generated. However, it is important to note that AI image detectors can be fooled and can produce inaccurate ratings if grain is added to an image.

Screenshot captured via Hive Moderation

Likewise, Check Your Fact did not find the image referenced in any credible news reports about a recent surgery Netanyahu underwent. In fact, the opposite is true. Misbar reported the image is AI-generated on April 6. (RELATED: Video Claims To Show Benjamin Netanyahu’s Nephew Being Shot By Hamas)

“The man’s shoulder appears abnormally turned up, unlike the relaxed position expected of an unconscious person under sedation. In addition, the tube appears to lead nowhere, blurred objects, and discrepancies in textures,” the outlet stated.

Furthermore, the claim is neither referenced on the website for the Israeli Prime Minister’s office nor his verified social media accounts.

Although the image of Netanyahu is fake, he underwent hernia surgery on Mar. 31, according to The Associated Press.

Dr. Walter Scheirer, a media forensics and AI expert at the University of Notre Dame, denied the image’s authenticity in an email to Check Your Fact.

“This image is either badly edited or generated by AI (or a combination of these two things). The presence of a sharp dividing line on the left side of the image implies that two images have been combined. It is unclear who the subject in the photo is, because the face has been occluded by a mask. Most importantly, Benjamin Netanyahu is a major world leader who is under constant scrutiny of the professional news media. No outlet is reporting that he recently underwent surgery,” Scheirer said.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter