Old video misrepresented as Iran drone attack footage

Accounts on X are claiming a video shows people ducking for cover from drones as Iran launched its first-ever direct assault on Israel. But the footage, like numerous other visuals posted online, is unrelated to the April 2024 attack and Israel's war in the Gaza Strip; it dates to at least July 2023.

"Video circulating about the arrival of the first batch of Iranian drones in Israel. Unconfirmed!!" says an April 13, 2024 post from "S p r i n t e r F a c t o r y," a prominent X account that has frequently spread disinformation about the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.

Screenshot from X taken April 16, 2024

Similar posts -- some coming from accounts posing as "OSINT," or open source intelligence, experts -- shared the clip across X and other platforms, including in Arabic and other languages

Iran's April 13 attack took regional tensions to new heights more than six months into a deadly conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The barrage of hundreds of Iranian drones and missiles -- countered with the support of the United States and other Israeli allies -- came in retaliation for a deadly April 1 strike widely blamed on Israel that hit Iran's consulate in Damascus, the capital of Syria.

Jerusalem residents took cover as blasts rang out and explosions lit up the sky. But the clip spreading online is unrelated.

Reverse image searches using the video's keyframes revealed it has been online since at least July 4, 2023, when it was published to both TikTok and X (archived here, here and here). The posts said it showed Sderot, a city in Israel near Gaza.

AFP geolocated the footage to a gas station and shopping mall located off a main road in the city (archived here, here and here).

Screenshots from X taken April 16, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP
Screenshots from Google Maps photos taken April 16, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP

The Israeli army said at the time that five rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza but were ''successfully intercepted" (archived here).

Israel's army added that sirens had sounded in Sderot.

The rocket fire came after Israeli forces launched a large-scale operation in the occupied West Bank, resulting in the deaths of 12 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier.

AFP has debunked other misinformation about Iran's attack here.

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