There has been a flurry of misinformation circulating widely after Hamas, a Palestinian militant nationalist group, launched a surprise attack in Israel on Oct. 7, sparking an Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip.
At Annie Lab, we have investigated several questionable claims and content that have emerged both on Chinese and Western social media platforms.
Misleading: These videos show people paragliding in Egypt, not in Israel
A video posted on Douyin on Oct. 8 contained two clips showing people paragliding, with a Chinese caption saying Hamas militants landed in Israel.
The Douyin clip has been shared over 7,500 times, while the posts on X have been retweeted over 5,000 times.
While it is true that the Hamas forces reportedly entered and attacked Israel by using motorized paragliding, this video posted on Douyin and X does not show the action.
Both clips were shot in Egypt, most likely before the conflict broke out.
The first clip shows people paragliding above two distinct structures – one of which looks like a church, and the other is a building in blue.
Through reverse image search, we identified the church as St. Fatima Chaldean Basilica, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Fatima.
We located the church on Google Maps and found a photo on trip.com that provided a clearer image of the same church.
Meanwhile, an image search of the blue building led to an advertisement about a clinic for sale on Aqarmap, a platform for selling real estate properties in Egypt.
The clinic is located on Abd El Aziz Fahmy Street, in a building that also houses the United Bank.
Both the Fatima Chaldean Basilica and the blue building are located in El Nozha of Cairo, Egypt.
The second clip features close-up shots of people paragliding over a white building with opulent architecture.
An image search of the building led to an article on the Egyptian Ministry of Defense website about the military academy.
A photo on Google Maps also shows the same black and red logo seen in the second clip, as well as the flag and the same Arabic text indicating that it is a “military academy.”
We then geolocated the military academy in El Nozha, Cairo — the same district where the two buildings in the previous clip are also found.
This second clip has also been fact-checked by Boom, an Indian news organization.
One clip shows the same fabric wings as the misleading videos. Other videos in the same period include military aircraft in action, suggesting there could have been a series of military training.
Annie Lab was not able to learn exactly when the two misleading video clips were shot, but they have no relevance to what is going on in Israel and are likely to be taken in mid-September to early October.
Misleading: This video of a paragliding accident was shot in South Korea
A post on X shared a video on Oct. 12, claiming it shows a Hamas paraglider crashing into a power line and being caught in flames. The post has been shared over a thousand times and has gotten more than 4,000 likes at the time of writing.
However, this incident took place in South Korea.
A reverse image search led Annie Lab to a Douyin post from June 18, 2023, showing the same accident as well as the subsequent rescue operations.
The Douyin video says the content widely circulated through Chinese media outlets that were wrongly reporting the accident’s location to be in Guangxi, China.
This user pointed out that the Korean media outlets reported that the incident occurred in Jeju, an island in South Korea.
We then found a post on a Korean forum on June 19, 2023, that uploaded the same clip and an article about the incident.
We checked the original source cited in the forum and the article from the news outlet Kookmin Ilbo, which said the accident involved a 60-year-old paraglider who died after hitting a 16m high-voltage wire in Seopjikoji beach, Jeju.
Other news organizations like the Korean Broadcasting System also reported about the incident (here).
We can see the same parachute design and color as well as the same electric post and transmission wires across the three videos.
Misleading: This video of Israeli troops rioting was taken a month ago
These claims come as Israel officially declared a state of war against Hamas.
However, Annie Lab found that the footage of the rioting Israeli soldiers actually dates back to the start of September.
We asked Dov Levin, an assistant professor of international relations at the University of Hong Kong, who speaks Hebrew, to translate and check the content of the articles.
He said, according to the reports, nine soldiers of the Golani Rangers were involved in the riot following a Krav Maga class.
Reportedly, all six trainees, two platoon commanders, and their sergeant were expelled from the vocational training school and confined to the military base for 28 days.
The two platoon commanders and the sergeant involved were also suspended from combat, and the commanding officer of this unit received an official censure in his record for these events.