4 December 2023

Misleading: Dated sexual assault video is not related to Israel – Hamas war

The video capturing the sexual violence was taken in Pakistan in 2021.

A slew of questionable videos of sexual violence have surfaced on social media claiming to be related to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas that began on Oct. 7.

This video posted on X (formerly Twitter) claims to show a large group of “Hamas supporters publicly raping a woman in Iran.”

The disturbing video shows a large crowd of men groping and shoving a woman around in public when she was screaming for help.

These claims come as widespread allegations of rape have been made against Hamas militants. Posted on Oct. 23, the post has about 402 likes and 276 reposts as of this writing.

Annie Lab investigated the origin of this particular video and found it to be misleading. It is neither recent nor taken in Iran. There is also no evidence showing the attackers are Hamas supporters.

According to India Today and the Guardian, the video was filmed in Pakistan on August 14, 2021. It shows a young woman being assaulted by a crowd of 300 to 400 men in Greater Iqbal Park in Lahore, the second-largest city in the country.

Comparison of the misleading video (left) and the video used by India Today (right)

The assault reportedly took place in broad daylight as the young woman was filming a TikTok clip with her friends on Pakistan’s Independence Day, an occasion that has nothing to do with supporting Hamas.

Annie Lab found other online videos posted in 2021 capturing the sexual assault from different angles (here and here).

Our geolocation also confirms that the video was filmed at Minar-e-Pakistan, a landmark monument in Lahore, not in Iran, as claimed in the X post.

Comparison of the tower shown in the misleading video (left) and a picture of the Minar-e-Pakistan (middle) from Lahore, Pakistan

During an interview with India Today in August 2021, the woman said, “I couldn’t understand what was happening, they were torturing me and playing with me. There isn’t a single body part where I don’t have any marks.”

Local media reported that following the attack, the police issued an arrest warrant for the 400 unidentified men involved. However, only eight suspects were arrested, one of whom was the victim’s associate. Another 98 suspects were released due to insufficient evidence.

Violence against women has been an ongoing social issue in Pakistan.

Although it is impossible to ascertain if any men involved in the incident were Hamas supporters, the assault has nothing to do with the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel.

Note: Although the victim’s name is publicly available, Annie Lab has decided not to mention her name in our story.