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Loreben Tuquero
By Loreben Tuquero November 21, 2023

Video shows Israeli flag planted over boys’ school, not al-Shifa hospital

If Your Time is short

  • The video was not taken in al-Shifa hospital, but at a nearby building.

  • A journalist using satellite imagery to find where the video was shot found that it showed the Gaza Preliminary School for Boys. We verified the location by using Google Earth imagery and identifying matching features from the video. ​

Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital and a major shelter for Palestinian civilians, became a focal point in the Israel-Hamas war after Israel Defense Forces raided the hospital Nov. 15. The Israeli military says Hamas, an armed Palestinian militant group, used the hospital as cover for terror infrastructure; officials from Hamas, the Gaza Health Ministry and hospital officials have denied that Hamas uses civilian centers for its operations.

Apart from that discussion is a different video traveling in several Instagram posts showing a service member carrying an Israeli flag and hoisting it on top of a building. The posts claim this was taken at al-Shifa hospital. 

"🇮🇱 Raising their flag over Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza - after attacking a hospital full of premature babies, sick/injured children and civilians. What accomplishment," one post said.

Screenshot from Instagram

The posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

A closer look at the video shows that the captions misrepresent where it was taken.

The video shows a logo that matches the name of a Telegram channel, which posted the video Nov. 14. The video’s caption in Hebrew, translated to English on the app, said, "Givati ​​fighters wave the Israeli flag 🇮🇱 and the brigade💜 in the center of Gaza City 🫡." It did not mention al-Shifa hospital.

Arthur Carpentier, a journalist at Le Monde, a French newspaper, found where the video was shot by using satellite imagery and mapping matching features. He said the video was taken not from al-Shifa hospital, but from the Gaza Preliminary School for Boys, less than a mile away. OpenStreetMap shows that the coordinates correspond to the school, similarly reported by Reuters.

Featured Fact-check

We verified the video shoot location by similarly using satellite imagery. We identified features in the video that corresponded with the satellite image, such as lettering on the building and structures nearby. The colors of the boxes below show how they match up. 

Looking closely at the start of the video, the service members walk over letters on the ground that say "UN." The blue box shows the letters "UN" on the satellite image versus the video. As Carpentier said, the satellite image was captured in May 2022, which could account for the orientation difference of the letters "UN." Meanwhile, the yellow box shows the tree in the video.

Image from Google Earth, screenshots from Telegram video

The pink box shows the same shape of the rooftop, which can be seen as the service members turn a corner. The orange box shows what looks like a fenced path below the building.

Image from Google Earth, screenshots from Telegram video

Because the building had the letters "UN" painted on its rooftop, we asked the United Nations about this video’s claim. Juliette Touma, communications director for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said the video shows "an UNRWA school in northern Gaza." The agency runs 183 schools across the Gaza Strip.

Touma told Reuters that as of Nov. 17, the agency has been unable to communicate with the Gaza team and thus cannot verify which school is in the video. 

The New York Times reported Nov. 19, citing a U.N. official, that a strike has hit another U.N.-run school in Gaza, killing dozens.

We rate the claim that this video shows service members planting a flag over al-Shifa hospital False.

Our Sources

Instagram post (archived), Nov. 16, 2023

Instagram post (archived), Nov. 16, 2023

Instagram post (archived), Nov. 19, 2023

Telegram video, Nov. 14, 2023

CNN, What we know about what Israel says it has found at Al-Shifa, Nov. 20, 2023

The Associated Press, Is Hamas hiding in Gaza’s main hospital? Israel’s claim is now a focal point in a dayslong stalemate, Nov. 14, 2023

Tweet by Arthur Carpentier, Nov. 15, 2023

Google Maps search

Google Earth search

OpenStreetMap search

Reuters, Fact Check: Clip does not show Israeli forces placing flag at Al Shifa hospital, Nov. 17, 2023

UNRWA, Education in the Gaza Strip, accessed Nov. 21, 2023

The New York Times, At Least 24 Killed in Strike on Gaza School Run by the U.N., Nov. 19, 2023

Tweet by Shayan Sardarizadeh, Nov. 17, 2023

Email exchange with Juliette Touma, director of communications for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Nov. 20, 2023

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Video shows Israeli flag planted over boys’ school, not al-Shifa hospital

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