Fact check | The misinformation battle running parallel to Israel-Hamas war 

Did Israeli military admit to attacking Gaza hospital? 

The October 17 airstrike on a hospital in Gaza has become the latest flashpoint in the Israel-Hamas war.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza blamed Israel for the attack, prompting widespread protests against Israel in the region. Israel, however, denied involvement in the attack and pinned the blame on the militant group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Against this backdrop, a claim that the Israel Defense Forces has admitted responsibility for the attack has gone viral on social media. The post purports to show an Arabic statement from the IDF on Facebook, acknowledging responsibility for the attack. Its English translation reads: “Due to the lack of medical tools and the lack of medical staff, it was decided to bomb the Baptist Hospital in Gaza and grant them euthanasia.”

The Hindu could not find any such post on the IDF’s Arabic Facebook page or elsewhere.

When contacted, Meta said the account that shared the post was removed for being inauthentic.

As for the substance of the claim, the Government Press Office, a unit of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, told The Hindu: “That incident is the most famous so far. The whole world knows that it was a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket – one of 600 misfired since the war began. Fortunately, we have several videos from different angles proving that, and even a voice recording of two terrorists discussing between themselves that it was ‘locally made’ rocket.”

The IDF shared a recent briefing by its spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, detailing the findings of its own investigation into the incident, which had concluded that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was responsible for the attack. It also shared an audio recording purporting to show Hamas militants discussing the attack and admitting that a misfired rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad was to blame.

The Hindu cannot independently verify the authenticity of the audio clip.

It may be noted that the U.S. and the U.K. have also concluded that the rocket was not fired from Israel.

Viral video falsely claims Palestinians are faking injuries 

A clip showing a woman applying effects on a group of people to make them look like they are injured has gone viral on social media.

The video is being shared with the claim that it shows Palestinians faking injuries amid Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

But The Hindu found that the video pre-dates the ongoing conflict. A reverse image search led us to a news report by Turkish broadcaster TRT World, showing a make-up artist applying effects on a group of actors for a film meant to create awareness on the difficulties faced by the people of Gaza.

This has been falsely linked to the current Israel-Hamas conflict.

According to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, over 7,000 people have been killed in Israel’s bombardment of the territory, as of October 26.

News outlets falsely linked to disinformation drive

The Israel-Hamas conflict has seen household names in news broadcasting being falsely linked to disinformation surrounding the war.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ ground incursion into Israel that killed at least 1,400 people, a video, ostensibly of a BBC news report, was shared widely on social media with the claim that Hamas had used weaponry supplied by Ukraine in the attack.

The clip begins with what appears to be the logo of BBC News, and features the distinct red-and-white colour pattern that the British broadcaster uses for on-screen graphics.

But The Hindu could not find any such news report of the BBC. Confirming that the video is false, a BBC spokesperson said, “In a world of increasing disinformation, we urge everyone to ensure they are getting news from a trusted source.”

Another clip doing the rounds on social media appears to cast aspersions on CNN journalist Clarissa Ward and her crew while they report on the war.

The description accompanying the video claims that it shows the CNN team ‘faking’ coming under attack. The voice-over gives the impression that the crew members are following the instructions of an unidentified individual on how to pretend that they are under attack.

The Hindu found the original video on CNN’s YouTube channel. While the visuals matched the ones in the viral video, the audio did not. The official CNN clip showed the journalist talking about what was happening on the ground, and did not feature the voice-over giving instructions to the team.

“The audio in the video posted and shared on YouTube is fabricated, inaccurate and irresponsibly distorts the reality of the moment that was covered live on CNN, which people should watch in full for themselves on a trusted platform,” a CNN spokesperson told The Hindu.

Hezbollah’s ‘full-scale war’ against Israel

Israel’s continuing bombardment of Gaza in response to the rampage by Hamas has raised the spectre of the country having to fight a war on two fronts – Hamas in the south and the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, in the north – if the latter makes good on its threat to intervene.

Against this backdrop, a video of a barrage of rockets being fired is doing the rounds on social media with the claim that it shows Hezbollah launching a “full-scale war” against Israel.

However, a reverse image search revealed that the video dates back to Türkiye’s military operation in the Kurdish-majority city of Afrin in Syria in 2018.

Since the start of the ongoing conflict, Hezbollah and Israel have been trading cross-border fire on a regular basis. But this has not escalated into a full-scale war, although it remains a possibility, especially in the light of a recent meeting of the leaders of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, where they discussed how to achieve “real victory” against Israel.

Did Turkish President threaten to intervene?

In the wake of the Israel-Hamas hostilities, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered to mediate between the warring sides. Türkiye has been a long-standing supporter of the Palestinian cause, and unlike many Western countries, it does not consider Hamas a terrorist organisation. Before the conflict broke out, Türkiye and Israel had been making efforts towards a thaw in ties.

But a widely shared post on X claims that the Turkish President has threatened to intervene in the ongoing conflict. It quotes him as saying: “I call on all humanity to take action to stop this unprecedented brutality in the Gaza Strip. If not, we will do it.”

The Hindu found that the statement attributed to the Turkish President had been digitally altered and shared out of context.

Using a keyword search, we found a similar statement posted by his official X handle, in which he starts off by blaming Israel for an attack on a Gaza hospital that killed at least 500 people (Israel has denied the claim, and has blamed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the attack.)

In this context, he urges the international community to take action to stop the violence. The English translation of his statement reads: “I invite all humanity to take action to stop this unprecedented brutality in Gaza.”

But it does not have the line: “If not, we will do it.” This was added to the statement and shared on social media in a misleading manner.

Image of dead Syrian children linked to Palestine

A disturbing image of dead children wrapped in shrouds is being shared on social media with the claim that they were victims of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

But a reverse image search revealed that the picture was about 10 years old. The Hindu traced it back to a chemical attack in Ghouta, Syria, in 2013 during the country’s civil war. The original photograph shows children who were killed in that attack, and is unrelated to the ongoing conflict.

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