Old video shows Palestinians fleeing north Gaza, not 'refugees leaving Rafah in May 2024'

Misrepresented videos and pictures have continued to flood social media as fighting raged on in Gaza. Posts circulating in May 2024, for example, shared a video they falsely claimed shows Palestinians fleeing the southern city of Rafah ahead of an expected ground assault by the Israeli army. But the clip has in fact circulated since November 2023 and shows Palestinians fleeing northern Gaza as Israel's air and ground campaign intensified in that part of the territory.

The video showing scores of people travelling on foot was shared on Facebook on May 7, 2024.

The video's caption bore the date "06/05/2024" and Thai language text that said in part: "Refugees left Rafah before Israel military begins their operation."

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on May 8, 2024

The same video was shared alongside similar claims elsewhere on Facebook in Thai here and here, and on social media site X in English here and here.

It circulated after the Israeli army called on Gazans living in eastern Rafah to head to an "expanded humanitarian area" in the Palestinian territory, ahead of an expected military operation in the southern Gaza city.

Countries around the world, including key Israeli backer the United States, have urged Israel not to extend its ground offensive into Rafah, citing fears of a large civilian toll.

Gaza's bloodiest-ever war began following Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has conducted a retaliatory offensive that has killed more than 34,900 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

The video shared online, however, does not show Palestinians fleeing Rafah in May 2024.

 Old video

A reverse image search on Google using keyframes from the video led to the same clip on Instagram that was posted on November 8, 2023 (archived link).

"People of Gaza from North to south. 8 Nov 2023. They left and nothing remained," reads the post's English and Arabic caption. 

Below is a screenshot comparison between the false post (left) and the Instagram post (right):

Screenshot comparison between the false post (left) and the Instagram post (right)

AFP reported at the time that tens of thousands of Palestinians had fled the fighting and bombardment in northern Gaza, as Israel said it was tightening the "stranglehold" around Hamas.

AFP also captured photo and video of people fleeing Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza on November 8, 2023 (archived link).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video used in the false post (left) and the November 8 photo (right), with corresponding elements highlighted by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the video used in the false post (left) and the November 8 photo (right)

The war has spawned a wave of online misinformation which AFP has debunked here.

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