- Social media users including the @Hezbollah Telegram account claimed in posts that a picture showed a missile or missile component that was dropped by Israel in Gaza in October 2023.
- These posts alleged that the object in the photo showed a label with the name and logo of a Colorado-based company, Woodward, Inc.
- However, as of this writing, we were unable to determine what the object in the photo was, nor were we able to find details about who captured the picture, where it was shot, or on what date it was taken.
- This story will be updated if we receive answers to questions that we sent to Woodward, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
On Oct. 23, 2023, as the Israel-Hamas conflict raged on, a user in control of the @Hezbollah account on Telegram posted a photo (archived) that allegedly showed a missile part that had recently been dropped in Gaza, apparently by Israel. A closer look at the picture revealed what looked to be a label on the alleged missile fragment purportedly bearing the name and logo of the U.S. company Woodward, Inc.
Based on our initial research, the validity of the claims that a U.S.-based company with that name had manufactured parts for missiles that were being used against Gaza, and that the in-question photo genuinely documented that, was undetermined.
The @Hezbollah account appeared to be the official Telegram profile for the Iran-backed group Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim political party and militant group based in Lebanon, as described by the Council on Foreign Relations. "[The group] is driven by its opposition to Israel and its resistance to Western influence in the Middle East," according to the council. "With its history of carrying out global terrorist attacks, parts of Hezbollah — and in some cases the entire organization — have been designated as a terrorist group by the United States and many other countries."
The in-question photo had a @Hezbollah watermark, and it did not show any signs of digital manipulation or the use of image-generating AI software. However, as of Oct. 25, we were unable to definitively confirm the photo's authenticity, nor trace its origins. Its photographer was unknown, and there was no specific evidence indicating where and when it was shot. Further, we have yet to find evidence to confirm that the object in the picture had anything to do with a missile.
Woodward features the same name and logo that appeared in the label on the photo. Generally speaking, the company makes products for aerospace and industrial markets.
A March 2023 YouTube video published on the company's official profile described it as "the global leader in energy conversion and control solutions for the aerospace, industrial, missiles and space equipment markets."
We reached out to representatives of Woodward, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to ask about the photo. We inquired about the claims that were being made in online posts about Woodward providing missiles or missile parts that were being used by Israel to strike Gaza.
We did not receive any responses by press time. We will update this report when, or if, that changes. (Our process of attempting to reach Woodward is detailed later in this article, as are details about the company's official Facebook and Instagram pages going dark following our initial inquiry. It's unknown whether those decisions pertaining to the company's social media presence were related to our reporting.)
'A Missile Thrown on Gaza'
The photo of the purported missile part was also posted by multiple users on X (as well as Facebook and Truth Social), and some of those pictures did not have the @Hezbollah watermark. That evidence — a missing watermark — indicated the group's Telegram account was not the first social media profile to post the picture. Again, we have yet to uncover any further details about the origins of the photo.
One X user posted, "From a journalist in Gaza— the missiles raining down are American made, by arms manufacturer Woodward, located in Fort Collins, Colorado. A reminder of how all settler colonial violence is interdependent."
From a journalist in Gaza— the missiles raining down are American made, by arms manufacturer Woodward, located in Fort Collins, Colorado. A reminder of how all settler colonial violence is interdependent. pic.twitter.com/zGmlQIawrC
— حيدر (@dialectichiphop) October 23, 2023
Again, as previously stated above, we were unable to find information to be able to identify who shot the picture or to figure out where or when it was shot. We also did not uncover details regarding what the photo shows – whether it be a missile part or something else entirely.
Woodward's 'Smart Defense' Solutions
Woodward was founded in Loves Park, Illinois, in 1870. According to a post on the company's website, inventor Amos Woodward began Woodward Governor Company after he "invented and patented a better, faster, more efficient water wheel governor." The company, now simply named Woodward, Inc., is presently based in Fort Collins, Colorado.
As of this writing, a page on the company's website outlining its "smart defense" solutions describes its products related to U.S. missile systems as follows:
Woodward is a world leader in design, development, and lean production of electro-mechanical actuation systems and components for Smart Defense application. We deliver industry leading technologies, systems, and components to a broad range of U.S. missile programs. The industry’s leading prime contractors look to Woodward for control and actuation solutions on air superiority and air defense missiles, direct attack missiles, guided bombs & rockets, anti-ship missiles, guided artillery and mortar rounds, hypervelocity vehicles, training and target missiles, and launch boosters.
In another YouTube video on Woodward's account from June 2012, the company boasted of its efforts, "We discover answers that make the world a better place," and, "We continuously improve our global community."
We reached out to Woodward on Oct. 23 via its email address for media inquiries listed on the company's website. In our email message, we asked the company if it had any reason to believe the photo was not genuine, and if the company could trace numbers on the purported label to a customer — that is, if the serial number was unique — and whether it had anything else to say on the matter.
However, we immediately received an automatic response from Woodward that said the email address — an email address listed on the company's website for members of the press — "only accepts messages from people in its organization or on its allowed senders list."
This was the automatic response we received by email.
We then sent email messages to three other company addresses listed elsewhere on the website and unrelated to media inquiries. We had received no responses by the next afternoon.
We also called a phone number listed for media inquiries on Woodward's website. However, that number led to a line that offered no options for press-related matters. We left several voicemail messages for other departments to forward our inquiries to the appropriate team.
On Oct. 24, we received a call back from a department unrelated to media inquiries and were told that our message would be forwarded to the company's legal team. We did not receive a response by the following morning.
Woodward's Social Media Pages Disappeared
On Oct. 23, when we started investigating this claim, we reviewed the official Facebook profile for Woodward. Several commenters appeared to believe, or question whether, the company had indeed manufactured parts used in the conflict against Gaza. "Are you a company for killing innocent women and kids with bombs?!!!!!!!" one user commented.
These comments were posted on Oct. 23, prior to the removal of the page.
As of Oct. 24, Woodward's Facebook and Instagram pages were inaccessible to members of the public. It's unclear if these removals were temporary or permanent. For example, the inaccessible Facebook page featured the default explanation, "This content isn't available right now. When this happens, it's usually because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it's been deleted."
Woodward's Facebook and Instagram pages went dark as of Oct. 24.
Further, as first reported by BoingBoing.net on Oct. 24, comments were at some point in time disabled on Woodward's LinkedIn and YouTube accounts. It's unclear when the ability to comment was turned off.
The War in Israel and Gaza
The photo of the alleged missile part circulated following Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7 — an attack by land, air and sea that resulted in the deaths, as of this writing, of more 1,400 people in the country, including children, as well as over 4,500 injuries, according to figures provided by Israeli officials to ABC News.
Following Hamas' attack, Israeli airstrikes pounded Gaza. According to The Associated Press, "the Hamas-run health ministry" reported "more than 5,700 Palestinians have been killed in the war, including some 2,300 minors," and that "figure includes the disputed toll from an explosion at a hospital last week," in reference to the deadly blast at the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on Oct. 17.
As civilians desperately attempted to evacuate Gaza, Israel was expected to soon begin a ground offensive in the region.
Note: The full caption of the photo at the top of this story that was provided by Doaa Albaz and Anadolu via Getty Images read as follows: "A Palestinian woman walks with a child on debris following the Israeli attacks on a building at Al Bureij Refugee Camp in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on Oct. 17, 2023."