Todd exposes the war photo from space

The internet, newspapers, and television news have been showing this photograph of Israel and Gaza from outer space, purporting to show the explosions from the war in that region:

View image on Twitter

You know tODD, a super-commenter on this blog who specializes in throwing cold water on over-hyped and misinterpreted claims (including those I make in some of my posts, which I actually appreciate!).  He did some sleuthing and found that the photograph is showing nothing more than ordinary city lights!  He sent his findings to Mollie Hemingway, “the scourge of lazy journalists,” who then exposed the mistake, though I’m not seeing any retractions.From Mollie Hemingway, No, This Picture From Space Doesn’t Show Explosions In Israel And Gaza:

[After quoting the media play about this picture]

And here’s video from CNN about the tweet, in which the anchor says:

“Let me just show you something. This is a picture you’re about to see from space and it was tweeted by a European astronaut taken from the International Space Station. Along with the picture Alexander Gerst tweeted ‘My saddest photo yet. From the ISS we can actually see explosions and rockets flying over Gaza and Israel.’ as he said. Pretty poignant picture there telling the story of what is happening.”

But look at the picture again. What do you see?

A Facebook friend of mine — Todd Stadler — posed the question and it made me look again at the photo. I felt like an idiot. I hadn’t really looked at the picture or thought about what I was looking at. He posted another picture with the note, “I did my best to line up the astronaut’s photograph with a map of the area. It’s a little tricky, because he’s taking a photo of a (real) globe, not whatever map projection Google uses, so I couldn’t line them up perfectly…”:

[Go to the link for the picture]

And then he showed where Gaza is, roughly, in the photo:

[Go to the link for the picture]

In other words, the lights aren’t rocket glares or explosions but city lights. Mostly Tel Aviv but also Haifa, Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva and others. Gaza is mostly dark. Space.com posted a video of the image, focusing in on a bright light — possibly in Ashdod. But the video was headlined and captioned, “Gaza Explosions and Flying Rockets Seen From Space: Photographs taken by ISS astronaut Alexander Gerst show the waging war on the Gaza strip and Israel.” Except they don’t. The photographs just show normal night lights.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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