Singer Justin Bieber’s call to his 293 million Instagram followers to “pray for Israel” on Wednesday was accompanied by an image of Israeli-inflicted damage to the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
The Canadian-born pop star shared the image as part of a Story on the Meta-owned platform. It was missing on Wednesday afternoon, however, after numerous social media users pointed out the incongruity. Bieber’s replacement Story kept the “pray for Israel” text but used a blank background and a broken-heart emoji instead.
The awkward combination of picture and sentiment that Bieber shared appears to have originated with Churchome, a non-denominational Christian group he is a member of. They have since deleted it from their Instagram profile as well.
The Associated Press file photo used in the original post showed the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on Gaza, a Palestinian territory used as a base by Hamas. The militant group launched rockets and commando attacks against Israel on Saturday, in the deadliest escalation of the ongoing conflict in decades.
“To vilianize [sic] all Palestinians or all Israeli people to me seems wrong,” Bieber wrote in an earlier post. “I’m not interested in choosing sides, but I am interested in standing with the families who have been brutally taken from us.”
Actress Jamie Lee Curtis made a similar faux pas on Tuesday, sharing a photo captioned “terror from the skies, Israel” which she then deleted when it emerged the children in the photo were actually Palestinians in Gaza, looking at an incoming Israel airstrike.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared war against Hamas, while his Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called the group “animals” and ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza. The US government has given unequivocal support to Israel.