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PSNI cast doubt on photo of man dressed as Palestinian militant walking through Derry

However a local journalist has said that other photos show the same costumed character.

POLICE IN DERRY City have said they believe a photo circulating showing a person walking through Derry dressed as a Palestinian militant is fake. 

An image of a gunman walking through a busy street in central Derry was shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media, often with the word “Hamas” superimposed over the photo. 

A number of news outliets reported that the image was purportedly taken during Halloween in the city. 

The Hamas militant group controls the Palestinian territory of Gaza and is currently engaged in a bloody conflict with Israel.

“We have not had any reports of anyone seeing this person in Guildhall Square dressed in this way, or found any other images online,” a statement by Derry City & Strabane District Commander Chief Superintendent Nigel Godard read. 

“At this time, and while I remain open-minded, with the checks we have conducted, with no other sightings reported to us from members of the public, or from police officers on duty reporting seeing this person, I believe this is a fake image.” 

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had previously asked the PSNI to investigate the image. 

“To dress in such a way is the glorification and celebration of a terrorist organisation”, a DUP lawmaker said.

“This will be a test of both the strength of the law around such issues and the will to take forward a prosecution.”

An initial analysis of the image was undertaken by The Journal using an “enhanced toolkit to detect image forgeries” provided by InVID, an EU-funded project to create ways to detect manipulated media. No obvious signs of manipulation were found. 

A Visuals Editor with the Belfast Telegraph also took to social media to criticise the PSNI’s statement, saying that they had received a second image of the costumed man, which was taken outside a Starbucks near where the first photo was taken. 

“Both images have absolutely no anomalies and full shadow detail,” Kevin Scott wrote on Twitter/X. 

Both images shows a man dressed in military fatigues carrying what appears to be a purple submachine gun. A Palestinian flag can be seen on his chest, while a headband that appears to say “Free Palestine” upside down in Arabic is worn over his head. 

The first photo appears to show the man walking through a market near where the Derry City and Strabane District Council meet. No one appears to pay him much attention.

UK Law forbids people from wearing clothing “in such a way or in such a circumstance to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation.”

A number of Palestinian militant groups, such as Hamas, are proscribed organisations in the United Kingdom.