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No, this Israeli fighter jet wasn't spotted over Nigeria's capital during Hamas leaders’ visit

IN SHORT: Leaders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas were in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital city, in February 2024. Facebook posts claim that an Israeli bomber jet was spotted over the city at the time, but there is no evidence for this.

“Breaking News: Israeli Bomber Jet Spotted Over Abuja Following Sighting of Hamas Leader in Nigeria's Capital,” reads a Facebook post from February 2024. 

The post continues: “Tensions escalated in Abuja as reports emerged of an Israeli Bomber Jet flying across the city following the sighting of the leader of the Hamas wanted group in the Nigerian capital. The presence of the jet in the skies above Abuja has raised concerns about potential military actions or security threats in the region.”

The post links to an article with an identical “breaking news” headline.  

Many Nigerians expressed concerns over the visit of senior Hamas officials to Abuja in February 2024. One of them, Ghazi Hamad, is known as a spokesperson for Hamas, and gave a few media interviews on the Israeli war against Gaza.

The Islamist militant movement Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2005. It attacked Israel on 7 October 2023 from Gaza, killing over 1,200 and kidnapping more than 240 people. This led to Israel declaring war against Hamas, centred on Gaza. Over 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks by February 2024, according to the Gaza health ministry. More than 7,000 people are also missing, presumed dead.       

The war has divided the world. Some countries side with Israel’s offensive in Gaza while others are against it. Some countries, including Nigeria, have stayed neutral. Nigeria is among the countries that called for a ceasefire and was in a delegation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League, which sought to stop the war.

The Facebook post in question includes a link to the report and two photos. The first photo is of an F-16 fighter jet. The second photo shows the Hamas delegation with two unidentified Nigerians.

We found the same post, report and photos on Facebook here, here, here, here and here.

But was an Israeli fighter jet seen over Abuja after Hamas officials visited?


Photo of jet old and unrelated

A reverse image search of the photo of the fighter jet led to a media report dated 23 February 2017.

The report is about an Israel Air Force fighter jet shooting down a Hamas drone from Gaza before it entered Israel. The photo is credited to AFP

Results from a reverse image search on the second photo were mostly from social posts made in mid-February 2024. 

“A Hamas delegation led by Ghazi Hamad, Sami Abu Zuhri, and A. Ali Baraka just completed a 4-day visit to Nigeria and met with government officials and civil society,” a 15 February 2024 post on X describes the photo.

This description aligns with a report on Critical Threats, a project of the American Enterprise Institute. The project analyses intelligence on unclassified information to assess threats to the US and its allies. The US is Israel’s largest ally

The report says the Hamas delegation visited Nigeria as part of the group’s diplomatic outreach to friendly African countries to increase international support.

Neither photo is evidence that an “Israeli Bomber Jet [was] Spotted Over Abuja”.

No reports of tension in Abuja  

We found no other credible media reports of tension in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, after the visit by Hamas officials or any news that an Israeli fighter jet had been sighted. 

Such would have been widely reported, considering its implications on global politics, diplomatic ties between both countries and the safety of residents in Abuja. 

The claim is false and should be disregarded.

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