By: Chandan Borgohain
May 8 2023
Credible reports identify the men seen in the video as immigrant Kuki soldiers in the IDF.
The situation in the violence-hit Indian state of Manipur remains tense after ethnic clashes have reportedly killed more than 50 people so far. Amid this, social media platforms are flooded with unverified and unsubstantiated claims.
A video showing a group of uniformed men has gone viral on Twitter, with claims that the men seen in the video are Kuki militants, and they are abusing Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. The video was shared by a self-proclaimed fact checking Twitter profile @dintentdata, which said that it showed illegal migrant Kukis from Myanmar have joined militant groups in Manipur. Another user also shared the video with a caption that read: “#kukimilitants openly shouting slang to the CM of Manipur, asking what he's doing in their land. Victims wouldn't be able to find time to react when they have these sophisticated rifles.”
However, the video doesn't show Kukis belonging to militant groups in Manipur.
When we closely observed the video, we noticed that the men are dressed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uniforms, as indicated by the Hebrew acronym צה״ל (Tzahal) above their shirt pockets, which stands for “The Army of Defense for Israel.”
Some Kuki people from Manipur and Mizoram belonging to the Bnei Menashe community have immigrated to Israel. News reports published by multiple Israeli media outlets confirm that members of this Kuki community are also in the IDF. According to news outlet Israel Hayom, a group of 12 members of India's Bnei Menashe community who immigrated to Israel in 2014 were enlisted in the IDF's Kfir Brigade in 2020. A report published on April 22, 2021, by Israel Today states that a Manipuri Bnei IDF staff sergeant, Nadiv Khaute, whose parents migrated to Israel from Manipur in 2000, was honored as one of Israel’s outstanding soldiers at an official ceremony in Jerusalem in 2021.
The Bnei Menashe identify themselves as Jews. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the Bnei Menashe claim descent from the tribe of Manasseh, one of the ten tribes exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrians over 2,700 years ago.
When Logically Facts reached out to a Meitei speaker, they confirmed that the men in the video are speaking the Meitei language and are cussing Singh. But Kukis also speak the Meitei language. The above sources show while the men in the viral video are Kukis, they are not members of militants in Manipur, but soldiers who have immigrated to Israel.
Though we could not independently identify the individuals seen in the viral video, by their uniforms we can clearly see that they are Kuki members of the Israel Defense Force and not militants in Manipur. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.