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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: TikTok video on death of 39 babies in Gaza FALSE

39 babies in Gaza passed away because there was no electricity at the hospital

Facebook page Shazia Parveen 11/14/2023 False

The Palestinian health minister had misstated during a press conference on Nov. 11, 2023 that 39 premature babies in Gaza died. The health ministry issued a correction the same day, clarifying that the babies were at risk of death due to power outage and a lack of oxygen.

A TikTok video falsely claims that 39 premature babies died at a hospital in Gaza in November. As of Nov. 28, eight of the babies passed away while the rest were sent to other hospitals.

The erroneous TikTok video, reshared on Facebook (FB) as a Reel, bore the text: “Gaza Ministry of Health Declares: 39 babies sadly passed away in incubators overnight due to no electricity (11/11/2023) 💔💔💔.” 

A cursory search showed that the false claim came from Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila, who misstated in a Nov. 11 press conference that 39 premature babies died in the neonatal intensive care unit of al-Shifa Hospital due to lack of oxygen. 

“And as we speak, I received the latest number: 39 babies born were killed,” al-Kaila said, according to an English translation broadcast by Al Jazeera.  

Multiple news organizations later reported that the Palestinian Health Ministry corrected al-Kaila’s statement the same day, clarifying that the babies were at risk of death due to power outage and a lack of oxygen.

Two babies, not 39, died on Nov. 11, according to several news reports

VERA Files Fact Check: Two premature babies, not 39, died in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital on Nov. 11, 2023. 

Thirty-one out of 39 babies survived: 28 were sent to Egypt while three remained in the city of Rafah in Gaza.

On Nov. 19, the Palestinian health ministry reported that six more babies had died, bringing the total to eight. The remaining 31 babies were evacuated the same day to the city of Rafah, near the Egyptian border.

Three babies remained in Rafah while 28 others were sent to Egypt for further treatment, 

Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said on Nov. 21

The false video garnered a total of over 17,000 interactions on FB. An earlier version, posted on Nov. 12 by TikTok user @news.middle.east, got a total of 94 interactions. 

 

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)