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No, video shows 2013 Rabaa massacre in Egypt, not Israeli soldiers shooting at Gaza hospital staff in 2023

IN SHORT: A viral clip has been circulating online since the Israeli army’s November 2023 raid on al-Shifa hospital, which it claimed was a Hamas command centre in Gaza. But the video was filmed a decade ago in Egypt.

Video falsely claiming to show Al-Shifa hospitalNote: This report includes details of a breaking news story. Information was, as far as possible, accurate at the time of publication but may change rapidly.

On 15 October 2023 the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) began the first of successive raids on al-Shifa, the largest hospital in the Gaza Strip. Israel and the US claim it was being used as a command centre for Hamas, the group that controls Gaza.

Thousands of patients were trapped. According to one report, the IDF killed four Hamas soldiers in a clash outside the hospital.

On the day of the first raid, a video started circulating on social media in South Africa and across the world with the claim it showed Israeli soldiers shooting at medical staff inside al-Shifa.

The blurry and chaotic video is shot inside a debris-filled corridor with a smashed window. People take cover behind pillars and vending machines as shouting and gunfire are heard. Arabic text scrolls across the bottom of the screen next.

A typical caption reads: “The Israeli army opened fire on the medics of the al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip - Al Mayadeen TV channel.”

Al Mayadeen is a satellite news channel based in Lebanon, a country which borders Israel to the north.

The video and its claim can also be seen here, here, here and here.

Before we examine whether the claim about the video is genuine, some background.

 

Israel’s war with Hamas and Gaza

Israel is a small country in the Middle East and the world’s only Jewish state.

The Gaza Strip is a narrow territory that lies mainly within Israel but borders Egypt to the south. The strip is densely populated and very poor. The people who live there are mostly Palestinian. Gaza has been ruled by Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, since 2007.

Israel and Palestine have been in conflict for decades.

The Israel-Hamas war, also known as the Israel-Gaza war, began on 7 October 2023 when Hamas attacked Israel with rocket fire and a raid from Gaza that killed 1,200 people. Another 240, including children, were taken as hostages back to Gaza.

Israel declared war on Gaza the next day, firing rockets on the territory and later imposing a blockade.

In early November the IDF began a ground offensive into Gaza. The dire situation means accurate numbers are hard to come by, but at least 17,997 people have been killed inside the strip since the war began, according to the Gaza health ministry. Roughly a third of those killed were children. At least another 7,780 people are missing.

But does this video show Israeli soldiers firing on medics in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital?

Security forces killed 1,000 protesters in Egypt

Africa Check took screenshots of frames from the video and ran them through a Google reverse image search. This revealed that it was filmed more than a decade ago and in a different country.

The search led us to the original and much clearer video, which was uploaded on the YouTube channel of Egypt’s Rassd News Network on 16 August 2013. A machine translation of its Arabic caption reads: “Heavy shooting at detainees at Rabaa hospital on the day of the massacre.”

On 14 August of that year Egyptian security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, a main road in the capital of Cairo. The crowd was protesting the previous month’s coup that had removed Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, from power.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates that at least 1,000 people were killed in what became known as the Rabaa (or Rab’a) massacre.

A branch of the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Specialized Hospital lies on El Tayaran Street, just off the site of the massacre.

Here’s an account of the massacre, from HRW:

Security forces gave little to no effective warning and opened fire into large crowds, leaving no safe exit for nearly 12 hours. Security forces fired on makeshift medical facilities and positioned snipers to target whoever sought to enter or exit Rab’a hospital. Towards the end of the day, the central stage, field hospital, mosque, and first floor of Rab’a hospital were set ablaze, probably by security forces.

The video shows part of the Rabaa massacre in Egypt in 2013, not Israeli soldiers shooting at medics in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital in 2023.

The IDF’s raids on the hospital have been widely condemned by the World Health Organization and others. But there have been no confirmed reports that Israeli soldiers shot at Palestinian medical staff.

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