Fact Check

Footage from simulation game falsely shared as Hamas blowing up Israeli tanks

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has entered its second month with fighting intensifying on the ground in Gaza. In this context, a recent social media post claimed that a video showed Hamas fighters attacking Israeli tanks. But this claim is false; the creator of the footage said it was made with a virtual game simulator.

“The Israeli Occupation Forces getting it,” reads an Instagram post shared on November 5, 2023.

A screenshot of the false post, taken on November 6, 2023

Published by a pro-Palestinian account, the post features 58 seconds of footage showing a military tank going up in flames after being hit by artillery fire. The caption on the video claims the tanks were attacked by Hamas fighters who came out of tunnels.

The claim surfaced after Israeli ground troops moved into the Gaza Strip following weeks of airstrikes.

Similar claims using the same video — but replacing Hamas with Lebanon’s Hezbollah — also circulated on Facebook, including here and here.

The conflict broke out after Hamas carried out a series of bloody attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023 (archived here). More than 1,400 people were killed and Hamas took more than 240 people hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Since the attack, Israel has relentlessly hammered targets in Gaza and sent in ground forces that have effectively cut the strip in half, with soldiers and tanks tightening the encirclement of Gaza City.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said more than 10,000 people (archived here) have been killed.

However, the video does not show Hamas militants firing on Israeli forces.

Digitally created clip

Using the InVID-WeVerify video verification tool, AFP Fact Check found that the footage was first published on YouTube on October 31, 2023 (archived here).

Called “PRO LLR”, the YouTube channel regularly features combat videos.

The clip caption claims “Hezbollah Anti-Armor Rockets Bombard and Destroy Israeli Merkava Tanks,” and urges prayers for “mujahid fighters”.

Mujahid is an Arabic word that refers to those who fight in the course of their religion.

However, the Indonesia-based channel wrote that the clip was a “virtual game simulation” and was created “using Bohemia Interactive a.s content”. It also published other similar clips, including here and here.

A screenshot shows the video and caption on YouTube, taken on November 6, 2023

Bohemia Interactive is the maker of the ARMA 3 war video game. “ARMA Game Play Video” also appears in the caption.

Scenes from the game are commonly used in misleading claims linked to various global conflicts, as previously debunked here, here and here by AFP Fact Check, as well as more recently linked to the Gaza war (here, here and here).

“While it’s flattering that Arma 3 simulates modern war conflicts in such a realistic way, we are certainly not pleased that it can be mistaken for real-life combat footage and used as war propaganda,” the Czech-based Bohemia Interactive wrote in a blog post in October (archived here).

You can read the Arabic version of this debunk here.

The renewed conflict between Israel and Hamas has generated a wave of disinformation online. You can follow our coverage here.

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