Syria hospital CCTV footage misrepresented as Israel bombs Gaza

Israeli air strikes in response to a bloody cross-border attack by Hamas have decimated parts of the Gaza Strip, but a video spreading across social media of explosions impacting a hospital is unrelated to the war in the territory. The clip shows CCTV footage from an infirmary in Aleppo, Syria, that was bombed in 2016.

"Israel bombing in Hospitals," says one October 30, 2023 post sharing the compilation on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Screenshot from X, formerly known as Twitter, taken November 2, 2023

The same video ricocheted across X and other platforms including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Reddit, with users claiming it shows Israeli air raids blasting various hospitals.

Several accounts that have previously spread disinformation, including political commentator Jackson Hinkle and a page known as "Sprinter," amplified the allegations before deleting their posts.

Israel's military says its forces have surrounded Gaza City, the stronghold of Hamas, whose fighters killed more than 1,400 people -- mainly civilians -- and took around 240 hostages in an unprecedented October 7 attack, according to Israeli officials.

The country's strikes have killed more than 9,000 people in the Palestinian territory, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry. More than 20,000 wounded people were trapped in Gaza as of November 2, per the aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Gaza's hospitals have been overwhelmed, run short of medical supplies and electricity, and in some instances caught in the shelling.

Medics warned October 29 that Israel was repeatedly bombing around a hospital in central Gaza, almost two weeks after a deadly October 17 blast at another hospital elevated international concern and saw both sides trade blame -- though neither the provenance of the strike nor the death toll could be immediately or independently verified.

But the security camera recording circulating online is unrelated to the Israel-Hamas conflict -- it is more than seven years old and was captured in Syria.

Recorded in Aleppo

Reverse image and keyword searches uncovered clearer versions of the same footage that bear a watermarked logo for the Aleppo Media Centre, a Syrian activist media group (archived here).

The organization posted the video to Facebook and YouTube on July 31, 2016 (archived here and here).

The footage shows an air strike that hit Omar Bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in Eastern Aleppo, according to the Facebook post's Arabic description. A timestamp says it was recorded July 16, 2016.

AFP reported that day that a hospital in the Maadi neighborhood in eastern Aleppo was affected as the Syrian regime targeted rebel-held districts with air raids, leaving some staff and patients wounded. AFP photographers captured pictures from the scene.

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Damage at the Omar Bin Abdul Aziz Hospital in the Maadi district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo after a barrel bomb struck just outside during government air raids on rebel-held districts of the city on July 16, 2016 ( AFP / THAER MOHAMMED)

A World Health Organization statement released days later (archived here) also named the hospital, saying it was hit in what was the third blast to impact the facility in a 45-day period.

The civil war in Syria erupted in 2011 after President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on pro-democracy protests. The ongoing conflict has killed more than 500,000 people, reduced cities to rubble and displaced half of the Middle Eastern nation's pre-war population -- while also roping in foreign countries and global jihadists.

AFP contacted the Aleppo Media Centre for comment, but no response was forthcoming.

AFP has previously debunked other claims misrepresenting Aleppo Media Centre footage, along with additional misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war, here.

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