Israel has been relentlessly bombing the Gaza Strip in retaliation for an unprecedented attack launched by Hamas militants on October 7. An aerial video of a devastated town circulating on Facebook, however, does not show the aftermath of Israeli strikes on the territory. The footage was in fact filmed after a huge earthquake in Antakya, Turkey in February 2023.
“The situation in Northern Gaza on the 10th day of war,” reads the Burmese-language Facebook post shared on October 17.
The 30-second video, which has more than 26,000 views, shows the aerial view of a town, with buildings reduced to mass heaps of rubble. It also contains the background audio of someone crying.
Israeli authorities say Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, when they launched an unprecedented attack on the country on October 7 from the Gaza Strip. Around 240 people were taken hostage, with five released as of November 1.
Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched strikes on the Gaza Strip that have pummelled the cramped and impoverished territory where 2.3 million Palestinians live.
The health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, says nearly 10,600 people, mostly civilians, including more than 4,000 children, have been killed in Israeli strikes and the intensifying ground campaign.
Thousands of civilians have been killed on both sides of the conflict.
The video, which run for over two minutes, was credited to cinematographer Muhammed Kösen.
Kösen told AFP he shot the video in Antakya on February 9, 2023 and provided the original video file. The metadata shows the clip was filmed on that day.
Metadata extracted from the original video
Kösen posted a shorter version of the video on Instagram on February 10, 2023. Unlike the video in false posts, the background audio features instrumental music and not the sound of a person crying (archived link).
The southern province of Hatay and the city of Antakya were also both mentioned in the video’s caption.
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AFP geolocated the video by matching visual features seen in the screenshots below — such as the strip of river on the leftmost side, a red and yellow building next to a dark grey building, a road bordered with green trees and a yellow and white building — to Google Street View images predating the quake.
Visual clues from the video highlighted by AFP
Google Street View images from November 2022 — three months before the quake — show the tall red and yellow building next to the dark grey building here, and here, Yavuz Sultan Selim Road bordered with trees, and the white and yellow building.
Below is the screenshot comparison of the buildings seen in the video (left) to the Google Map photos (right):
The Israel-Hamas war has sparked a torrent of misinformation on social media, some of which AFP debunked here.