Why Is The ‘All Eyes On Rafah’ Instagram Trend Problematic?

ED Times
4 min readMay 30, 2024


By Chirali Sharma -

On Sunday 26th May, the Israeli military carried out airstrikes and shellings over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip that led to a massive fire breaking out in the relief shelter housing hundreds of refugees living in outdoor tents.

The health ministry of Gaza revealed that the attack led to 45 civilian deaths, including many children, and around 249 people being injured, bearing burn and shrapnel wounds.

The Israeli government claimed that it was simply a “a tragic accident” and then tried to shift the blame that the fire in the refugee camp was not from their airstrikes alone and could be due to secondary explosions coming from the Palestinian militants’ weapons.

The airstrikes that led to dozens of people being killed in Rafah, for the first time in almost 200 days of conflict between Palestine and Israel since October 7, 2023, had people publically supporting Palestine and condemning Israel for their actions.

In the midst of this, an image started going viral on social media called ‘All eyes on Rafah’ with it eventually being shared over 44 million times on Instagram alone along with other social media platforms. Many celebrities and public personalities around the world joined in sharing the image leading it to trend globally.

But at the same time, criticism has risen around the image and many people have called it out. Why is the image and the trend being considered problematic by Palestine supporters?

AI Image

The viral image has the text ‘All eyes on Rafah’, surrounded by rows of tents stretching across endless desert land and surrounded by mountains. This is supposed to represent the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have taken refuge in Rafah after Israel launched a counterattack against the region after Hamas’ attack on 7th October.

The area of Rafah is even more significant because the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) itself had told civilians to flee to Rafah, claiming it would be a humanitarian zone, however, that was not followed through by the Israeli military that has continued to attack even areas that were under the safe zone. On 11th February airstrikes were carried out in Rafah that killed more than 44 people.

The issue with the image being an AI (artificial intelligence) generated one is one reason many do not fully support it. The whole ethics of AI image generation and further how it does not show any of the actual brutalities or ground reality of Rafah had led many pro-Palestine people to call against its use.

Many have said that this image has become just a trend where people are sharing it without really helping in any real way. While yes, the image has been shared millions of times, activists claim that since there is no real information, link, or any actual information of what’s happening, the message is not reaching as heavily as it should be.

One user wrote “Palestinians didn’t go through and document the genocide happening just for us to use [an] AI image to raise awareness,” while another commented, “I feel like the main reason celebrities are using this AI image for All Eyes on Rafah is because it’s “aesthetically pleasing” and now seen as trendy. This along with it being vague and removed from reality. This is not an AI generated genocide. Its real. Use real photos.”

Not Really Helpful

People are also concerned that just like other social topics, this might be going in a performative activism direction where people take part in social media trends but are not really helping out in any real way.

Some are posting on how those wishing to actually help the refugees in Palestine can help, by posting infographics showing real numbers, charity and donation links to send aid like food, water, clothing, medicine, and even SIM cards so that the civilians can remain connected and have a way to share their plight with the world.

Others are encouraging those sharing this image to go beyond just that to join protests and demonstrations around them to show they stand with Gazans and people in Rafah.

While some do understand that an AI image devoid of the gruesomeness of ground reality might be easier to push on social media, there are also those asking for people to not stop here.

Originally published at https://edtimes.in on May 30, 2024.