Misidentified Video: Explosions in Ukrainian Crimea Mistakenly Labeled as ‘Attack on Tel Aviv’

Flatart, Freepik

Original article (in Bosnian) was published on 18/4/2024; Author: Amar Karađuz

Days before Iran launched drones and missiles at targets in Israel, footage of explosions in Crimea was shared on Facebook with claims that Tel Aviv had been attacked.

On the night of April 13-14, 2024, Iran launched a barrage of hundreds of missiles and drones targeting various locations in Israel. This military offensive came in retaliation for an airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 1, an incident for which Iran holds Israel responsible. The conflict between these two states has been ongoing for years, characterized by various forms of hostilities. As noted by the BBC in an article dated April 14, “countries have been waging a shadow war for years – attacking each other’s targets without taking responsibility.”

Several Facebook posts dated April 5 and 6, 2024, claimed that Iran had launched an attack on Israel (1, 2, 3). The posts also shared an alleged video of the Iranian attack on Tel Aviv, featuring a large explosion.

Iran began attacking Israel’s Tel Aviv with heavy rockets; there is fire, several buildings have been destroyed

The Video Was Not Produced in the Middle East

Iran did not attack Israel on April 5 this year. The video of the alleged attack was also shared in English at the time and was analyzed by the fact-checking departments of the web portals India Today and Euronews.

The Iranian launch of several hundred drones and rockets on the territory of Israel began in the night between April 13 and 14. According to Al Jazeera, explosions were heard in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, however, they were caused by the interception of Iranian missiles.

The video that was shared in posts in B/C/S language, which allegedly shows the Iranian attack on Tel Aviv, actually shows the Ukrainian missile attack on the city of Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula, which was occupied by Russia in 2014.

Through a reverse search of screenshots of the footage, India Today found a video showing the explosion, as well as media reports from the March 23, 2024 Ukrainian attack, which were accompanied by photographs of similar scenes from Sevastopol.

The aforementioned video of the attack was published on the YouTube channel of the London newspaper The Telegraph on March 24, 2024. The following report is featured in the description:

The Ukrainian military said it has hit two large Russian warships as well as other facilities used by the Russian navy in the Black Sea.

“The Defence Forces have successfully hit the Yamal and Azov landing ships, a communications centre and several infrastructure facilities belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet,” a Ukrainian military spokesman said.

The extent of the damage could not be immediately verified, but a Russian official in the region reported a major Ukrainian air attack and said more than 10 missiles had been shot down over the Black Sea port of Sevastopol.

Comparison of a Facebook video claimed to show an Iranian attack and a YouTube video showing an attack on Sevastopol.

The Telegraph got the footage from the X account @Osinttechnical, where it was originally posted on March 23 – when the attack took place.

Iran’s missile attack on Israel was also the subject of other manipulative posts on social networks. You can read the analysis of a similar example at this link.

Therefore, we evaluate the earliest publication of the analyzed video with a description claiming to show the attack on Tel Aviv as fake news. Other posts are rated as the distribution of fake news.