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Old video of beheading resurfaces amidst 2023 Israel-Hamas escalation

Video shows members of the Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki group executing a Syrian boy

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Claim: A video shows members of Hamas beheading a young Israeli boy in a pickup truck.

Fact: The video is unrelated to the Israel-Palestine conflict; it is actually from 2016 and shows members of a Syrian opposition group, Nour al-din al-Zenki, beheading a minor Syrian boy over accusations that he was fighting for a pro-Syrian government group.

[Content warning: This fact-check contains blurred screenshots from a video showing a beheading.]

On 8 October 2023, X (formerly Twitter) user @MrSinha_ posted (archive) a video he claimed shows members of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, beheading a young Israeli boy in the back of a pickup truck.

@MrSinha_ wrote the following caption alongside the video:

“Allah Hu Akbar & then beheaded the innocent kid.. They’re not humans, their faith makes them worse than animals… So called “secular-liberals” are supporting these p!gs? (Watch it at your own risk) #IsraelUnderAttack #IslamIsTheProblem  #HamasTerrorists”

Hamas attack

The video in question comes as a part of a deluge of pictures, videos, and claims which flooded social media when Israel declared war against Hamas, after the group launched a “surprise attack” (archive) that resulted in hundreds of casualties.

Soch Fact Check has previously investigated and debunked multiple claims related to the recent escalation of tensions between Palestine and Israel.

On 7 October 2023, the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades — the military wing of Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza — launched (archive) a “surprise attack” on Israel via sea, land, and air. In response, the Israeli government formally declared (archive) war on Hamas on 8 October 2023.

At least 1,400 fatalities have been reported in Israel, while health officials reported that over 8,000 people have been killed in Gaza and West Bank, Palestine, according to a report (archive) by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reported (archive) that over one million people — or almost half the total population of Gaza — have been displaced.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check reverse-searched keyframes from the video and found the link to a 13 April 2017 report (archive) by The Daily Beast titled, “U.S.-Backed ‘Moderate’ Rebels Behead a Child Near Aleppo.”

The article opens with the following two paragraphs:

Members of an American-backed rebel group in Syria beheaded a young child in a grisly execution video.

The footage surfaced early Tuesday of members of Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki and a captured child in Handarat, near Aleppo. The young boy, who appears to be prepubescent, is then executed on the back of a pickup truck.

We took the phrase, “members of Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki and a captured child in Handarat, near Aleppo” from this article for our Google search. The results, web and image both, led us to reports by different media outlets corroborating that the video is from July 2016; the publications included The Guardian, the Daily Mail, the BBC, The Sun, and Common Dreams (archives available here, here, here, here, and here, respectively).

As per The Guardian’s report, Nour al-din al-Zenki was a Syrian opposition group, which was “part of a US-vetted alliance and been supplied with anti-tank missiles until a year ago” at that time. The execution took place in Handarat, near the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Nour al-Din al-Zenki group’s fighters accused the boy of being “an al-Quds soldier supporting Assad’s Syrian forces”, the Daily Mail reported. The Liwa al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigade) — a pro-Syrian government group — identified him as 12-year-old Abdullah Issa but denied that he was a fighter, as per the BBC. However, his sister refuted the claim, saying he was from Homs and went to “fight and defend his country”, as reported by the BBC (archive).

The Daily Mail and The Sun both carried screenshots from the video which match the image we are investigating.

We also found a report (archive) in Al Jazeera, which includes a translation of some of what is being said in the clip.

“In the video, one of the rebels shouts: ‘He sent us a child today, he no longer has men!’ seemingly referring [to] Assad. ‘We will leave no one in Handarat,” they added, referring to the city north of Aleppo where heavy fighting between rebels and government forces has been taking place,” the publication wrote.

Virality

The post by @MrSinha_ received over 400,000 views, as of the time it was archived. It was also shared here, here, here, here, and here on X.

Soch Fact Check found the video was shared as Facebook Reels here, here, and here

Conclusion: The video is unrelated to the Israel-Palestine conflict; it is actually from 2016 and shows members of a Syrian opposition group, Nour al-din al-Zenki, beheading a minor Syrian boy over accusations that he was fighting for a pro-Syrian government group.


Background image in cover photo: Abed Rahim Khatib


To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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