Video from 2022 shows US troops landing in Romania, not Israel

Thousands have died since a fresh war erupted in Gaza after Hamas launched an unprecedented assault on Israel on October 7, 2023. Israel responded by relentlessly bombarding the Hamas-run enclave. As the conflict escalated, the US military ordered about 2,000 personnel to stand by for deployment to the Middle East. Following the announcement, a video purporting to show the arrival of American forces in Israel has been circulating on social media. However, the claim is false: the video is old and depicts US troops arriving in Romania in 2022.

“THOUSANDS of US Marines have just landed in Israel,” reads the caption of a Facebook post published on October 26, 2023.

A screenshot of the false Facebook reel, taken on November 6, 2023

AFP Fact Check has debunked other claims featuring the same video circulating in Arabic and French.

The video shows a large group of uniformed soldiers disembarking from a plane.

Fighting in the Gaza Strip continues more than a month after Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7 (archived here).

More than 1,400 people were killed during the assault, and Hamas took at least 240 people hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

In response, Israel has relentlessly bombarded Gaza and sent in ground troops, with the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory saying more than 10,000 people have been killed.

Then, on October 17, 2023, the US Department of Defense (DoD) announced it had put soldiers on standby (archived here).

A screenshot of the DoD’s official press release, taken on November 7, 2023

“Secretary Austin placed approximately 2,000 personnel and a range of units on a heightened state of readiness through a prepare to deploy order, which increases DoD's ability to respond quickly to the evolving security environment in the Middle East,” reads the press release.

However, the claim that this video shows thousands of soldiers arriving in Israel is false.

US troops in Romania

AFP Fact Check performed a reverse image search using the InVID-WeVerify video verification tool and found the original video posted on YouTube on June 28, 2022, well before the start of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas (archived here).

The video is titled: "101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Soldiers arrive in Mihail Kogainiceani, Romania, June 28, 2022 (sic)".

“The 101st units are supporting V Corps’ mission to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank and engage in multinational exercises with partners across the European continent to reassure their Nation’s Allies and deter further Russian aggression,” reads the caption.

US troops were deployed to Romania in response to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine (archive here).

Photos taken on June 20, 2022, also appear on the US Army’s website detailing the soldiers' arrival at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase in Romania (archived here).

A number of clues confirmed the original video and the video used in the false post show the same event, including the flight number “N828”, seen on the left side of the aircraft door, and two soldiers carrying duffel bags as they disembark.

Screenshots of the misleading video (left) compared with the U.S. Army video (right)

Moreover, in both the photos and video, there is a soldier with dark hair tied into a bun and a taller soldier with short, dark hair standing at the bottom of the stairs.

Screenshots of the US Army’s photo (left) compared with the misleading video (right)

US in the Middle East

As of publication, the United States has not deployed the approximately 2,000 troops that were put on standby.

The United States, Israel's staunchest ally, recently sent its top diplomat, Antony Blinken, on a tour of the Middle East, where he voiced strong support for increased humanitarian access to Gaza.

Blinken said on November 6, 2023, that Washington was working "very aggressively" to dramatically expand the amount of aid reaching trapped civilians in Gaza.

Around 2,500 US troops are already deployed in Iraq, and some 900 others in Syria, as part of a campaign to prevent any resurgence of the Islamic State jihadist group.

Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the US defence department will continue to protect American forces and citizens in the region and provide security assistance to Israel (archived here).

He added that the US is coordinating closely with Israel to help secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, including Americans.

“We've strengthened our force posture across the region to deter any state or non-state actors from escalating this crisis beyond Gaza,” said Ryder.

The renewed conflict between Israel and Hamas has generated a wave of disinformation online. You can follow our coverage here.

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