Israel-Hamas war: Fact-checking online misinformation

Israel-Hamas war: Fact-checking online misinformation

By: sam doak&
October 10 2023

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Israel-Hamas war: Fact-checking online misinformation

Israeli soldiers drive in a tank by Israel's border with Gaza in southern Israel, October 10, 2023. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

On the morning of October 7, combatants affiliated with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched a series of attacks and successfully breached Israeli border defenses. As militants moved into civilian-occupied areas, hundreds were killed, and a significant number of people were taken as hostages.

As of October 10, international media reported that over 900 Israelis have been killed following the outbreak of fighting on Saturday. At least 600 Palestinians are also estimated to have been killed by Israeli forces, which have been targeting numerous sites in Gaza with retaliatory strikes. Thousands of Palestinians and Israelis are reported to have been wounded amid the ongoing violence.

A wave of viral false and misleading claims has since spread across social media platforms. While the volume of such content has presented significant challenges for social media users attempting to follow these events, Logically Facts is working to identify and address false narratives that have the potential to further inflame the discourse surrounding the conflict.

Visuals from video game Arma 3 shared as clips of Hamas attacks on Israel

Screenshots of X posts misrepresenting footage from Arma 3 as visuals from the Israel-Hamas war. (Source: X)

When a conflict captures widespread attention online, it is not uncommon for clips from the popular war simulation game Arma 3 to be misinterpreted as real-world footage.

In recent days, Logically Facts found that Arma 3 footage, commonly taken from YouTube rather than directly from the game itself, has been passed off as video of a helicopter being shot down, rockets being launched, and a soldier operating a surface-to-air missile. 

Read the full fact-check by Vivek J here.

Video of caged children predates recent fighting in Israel and Gaza

Screenshot of an X post claiming to show captured children in cages. (Source: X)

In the days since intense fighting began, a video showing children in a cage has been shared widely on social media. While the original context of the video is unclear, social media users have presented conflicting accounts concerning what it shows. Some posts claim it depicts Israeli children captured by Palestinians, and others contend that the children are Palestinians who have been kidnapped by Israelis. 

While it was not possible to determine exactly when or where this video was recorded, Logically Facts found that it was uploaded to TikTok on October 4, 2023, days before the recent attacks, which commenced on October 7. While the TikTok video in question was removed from the platform, likely due to community guidelines violations, a dated screenshot was shared on X by the fact-checking outlet FakeReporter.

Read the full fact-check by Sam Doak here.

No, this video does not show an Israeli child kidnapped by Palestinians

In a similar vein, a second video concerning an alleged child abduction went viral in recent days. The video shows a man kneeling next to a young child at the side of a street. While there is nothing in this video that would necessarily suggest the man shown has kidnapped the child next to him, social media users repeatedly claimed this to be the case.

To determine the veracity of these claims, Logically Facts traced the original account that uploaded this video. We found that it was uploaded on September 8, 2023, almost an entire month before the recent incursion and counterattacks.

Read the full fact-check by Sam Doak here.

Unrelated video from Azerbaijan shared as Israeli officials captured by Hamas

Screenshots of social media posts claiming to show Israeli officials captured by Hamas. (Source: X/Facebook)

On October 8, a verified X user posing as a news organization posted a video with the caption, “LATEST: Several high-profile Israeli Generals captured by Hamas fighters.” The video attached to this post showed three men being detained by what appear to be soldiers in uniform.

Noting the insignia on the soldiers’ uniforms, Logically Facts determined that this footage was not recorded in Israel or Palestine. In fact, it was taken from news coverage concerning the arrest of separatist leaders by Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Read the full fact-check by Rajini KG here.

Footage of parachuters from Egypt misattributed to events in Israel

Screenshot of a TikTok video falsely claiming to show parachuters descending into Israel. (Source: TikTok)

Some of the most widely shared footage that emerged over the weekend showed Palestinian fighters using paragliders during incursions into Israeli-held territory. While this did occur, some social media users began sharing videos of parachutists and paragliders from elsewhere, likely in an attempt to attract engagement on posts.

One such video, shared widely on X, shows a large number of parachutists above what appears to be a government building. While the footage is dramatic, Logically Facts determined that it was recorded at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo and has nothing to do with the current conflict.

Read the full fact-check by Christian Haag here.

Old video from Israel falsely linked to recent attacks

In the days after October 7, a video purportedly showing the Israeli armed forces’ response to the incursion was widely shared. This clip, which shows two trucks carrying fighter jets, was used to claim that Israel had begun evacuating its air bases close to Gaza.

Noting the presence of legible road signs, Logically Facts determined that this clip was filmed in Southern Israel but has been circulating since mid-September. The timing of this proves that it is not related to the current outbreak of violence occurring in the region. 

Read the full fact-check by Rahul Adhikari here.

Old video of 'salvo' of rockets being fired is misattributed to Hamas attack on Israel

(Screenshot of an X post claiming to show rockets fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. Source: X)

As Palestinian militants launched their offensive, social media platforms were awash with footage showing the launch of missiles targeting Israel. One of these, filmed at night and showing a notably intense barrage of rocket fire, was shared thousands of times across TikTok and X.

While Israel has been targeted with rockets throughout the last few days, this particular video was not filmed recently. Through a reverse image search, Logically Facts found that it was uploaded to YouTube in 2020, at which point it was attributed to fighting in Syria. While we were unable to independently verify the location shown, the video does not show recent attacks in Israel and Gaza. 

Read the full fact-check by Arron Williams here.

Video of Iranian parliamentarians saying 'Death to America' is not related to Israel-Hamas war

Events in Israel and Gaza have inflamed tensions within the wider region. Given Iran’s historical support for Hamas, the country has been a focal point for some seeking to attribute responsibility for the attacks carried out in recent days.

In this context, a video showing Iranian lawmakers chanting “death to America'' has circulated widely. While social media users have claimed this occurred recently, Logically Facts found that the footage was published by CNN in January 2020, following the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani by U.S. forces.

Read the full fact-check by Umme Kulsum here.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before