FactCheck Social Media

‘Wounded’ infant photo has nothing to do with Palestine conflict

2021-05-20 15:33:45

The Statement

An eye-catching photo of a baby with red marks across its face has been linked to the conflict in Gaza.

The image, shared by a Facebook user to the group “Muslim post Australia”, shows a close-up of the infant and facial markings that resemble burns or scabs.

“May Allah bless this little Palestinian angel and give her fast recovery & all injured Palestinian people,” the post’s caption reads.

At the time of writing, the May 18 post had been shared more than 110 times and generated more than 750 reactions and comments. The image was also shared on Twitter, with one user claiming it showed a baby “attacked by Israel using white phosphorus bombs”. The tweet had generated more than 600 retweets and likes.

A Facebook post with an image of a baby with red marks on its face
 A Facebook post includes an image of a baby with red marks across its face. 

The Analysis

The photo does not show a victim of the conflict in Gaza – nor is the baby a Palestinian child. The infant is an American girl with a rare condition that leads to pronounced birthmarks.

Hundreds of people have been killed since fighting erupted in Israel and Palestinian territories on May 10, with the majority of the casualties occurring among Palestinians in Gaza. Many of the injured and dead include children, with images of the casualties shared around the world.

In a May 18 statement, UNICEF called for immediate humanitarian access to the territory after the deaths of at least 60 children and the wounding of 444 more in Gaza. Israel has denied widespread claims made on social media that it was using white phosphorus weapons, considered illegal if deployed against civilians.

However, the baby pictured in the social media posts was not a Palestinian baby injured by Israeli forces. She is actually Bianca Latino from Rockford, Illinois, whose facial markings are a symptom of the rare disorder Sturge-Weber syndrome, which caused port wine stains on her face and back.

The same image of Bianca as seen in the posts featured in media coverage in early 2019. According to a story by Caters News Agency, Bianca was diagnosed with the syndrome at three months of age, after which she had pulse dye laser treatment in an attempt to clear the marks.

That treatment temporarily left red spots that looked like “burn marks” on the baby’s skin, as seen in a video that accompanied the article. The article and images were also picked up in April 2019 by British newspapers The Sun and Mirror.

In the articles, Bianca’s mother Deanna Latino was quoted as saying she had received cruel comments suggesting she may be an abusive mother as a result of the markings.

Ms Latino is now an ambassador for the US Vascular Birthmarks Foundation and has chronicled her daughter’s life in various YouTube videos and on a Facebook page. The YouTube video, posted in 2018, shows Bianca after her first laser treatment (3min 35sec) with red welts similar to those seen in the later photo beginning to appear.

A protester waves Palestine's flag during clashes with Israeli troops
 Hundreds of people have been killed in the recent conflict in Israel and Palestinian territories. 

The Verdict

The image featured in the post is not an injured Palestinian child as claimed. Rather, the baby is an American girl with a rare condition that causes pronounced birthmarks.

False – Content that has no basis in fact.

* AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.