On October 12-14, 2023, Facebook users shared a video of armed fighters (1,2,3), which, according to the description, depicts the first moments of the Hamas attack on Israel, and in the video, the Russian speech can be heard, namely, the word “Прикрывайте” (cover-up).
The video was actively distributed by Russian-language Facebook users (1,2,3,4). According to the descriptions of the Russian-language posts, the video depicts an October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, and Russian instructors give orders to the fighters during the attack.
Some Russian-language users name the Russian non-governmental organization Gulagu.net as the source of the video and information, which published the video on October 12 based on its own source.
The claim that Russian words can be found in the circulated video is not confirmed. In the video, the armed fighters speak in Arabic with a Palestinian accent. Information about this was confirmed to Myth Detector by Fatabyyano, a fact-checking service from Jordan.
In order to verify the video, “Myth Detector” contacted the Jordanian fact-checking platform Fatabyyano. Fatabyyano also provided the original source for the video, namely, the full, 2-minute video, which was posted on the Telegram channel of Hamas’s military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, on October 8. According to the video’s description, it depicts an attack on the Israeli settlement of Erez.
According to the Fatabyyano team, the video speaks in Arabic with a Palestinian accent, and no other foreign language is heard in the video. The following phrases are heard in the video: “Bow your head, man – وطي راسك يا زلمة, “God is supreme, God is supreme – تكبير الله اكبر تكبير الله اكبر, “Go, go – روح روح”. A few words from the conversation are incomprehensible due to the noise, although they also sound Arabic.
The Fatabyyano team also verified the full video released by Hamas and confirmed that no language other than Arabic can be heard in the full video either.
Some Russian-language Facebook accounts rely on the Russian non-governmental, anti-corruption, and human rights organization Gulagu.net for video and information distribution. Gulagu.net posted the video on its YouTube channel on October 12. According to the description of the video, the information was provided to the organization by a source who indicated that Russian is being spoken in the video. The description also mentions that the Russian journalist Mark Feygin and the founder of Gulagu.net, Vladimir Osechkin, spoke live on Feygin’s YouTube channel about the involvement of members of the Wagner group in the current Israel-Hamas war. This live stream was broadcast on Feygin’s YouTube channel on October 11. In the program, Feygin says there are reports that members of Wagner’s group have been training Hamas fighters in Syria. Together with Osechkin, he discusses whether it is possible that this information corresponds to reality. According to Feygin, there is no concrete evidence yet, and he also notes that if such training was conducted, it would take place in Syria, where Wagner’s activities are confirmed, and it is unlikely that Russian instructors would train members of the Hamas group in the Gaza Strip. Feygin discussed the possible connection between Wagner’s group and Hamas in a live broadcast on October 15 together with a Russian political technologist and declared “foreign agent” in Russia, Stanislav Belkovsky. On October 15, Feygin noted that there are some videos circulating where it seems that individual Russian words are heard; however, experts in Arabic, and specifically the Arabic dialect common in Palestine, noted in their conversation with Feigin that the spoken language in the recordings does not look like Russian.
On October 7, 2023, the terrorist group Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel, as a result of which the terrorists killed more than 1,300 people and kidnapped 150. Israel responded by declaring war, regaining control of the border, and killing up to 1,500 Hamas fighters. After the bombing of the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 2,300 Palestinians have died, a quarter of whom are children.
After the start of the Israel-Hamas war, a number of false claims, as well as photo and video manipulations, were disseminated on social media. For more information, see the “Myth Detector” articles:
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