The protracted, often bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict exploded into a hot war on Oct. 7, 2023, when the militant Palestinian group Hamas launched a deadly attack on Israel and Israel retaliated by bombarding the Gaza Strip. More than 20,000 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians, were reportedly killed during the first two months of the war alone. The violence is driven by mutual hostilities and territorial ambitions dating back more than a century. The internet has become an unofficial front in that war and is rife with misinformation, which Snopes is dedicated to countering with facts and context. You can help. Read the latest fact checks. Submit questionable claims. Become a Snopes Member to support our work. We welcome your participation and feedback.
On Dec. 21, 2023, according to a news release from Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli army detonated a series of underground tunnels supposedly built and used by Hamas militants. A video of the detonation, released by the Israeli military, quickly made its way onto social media, where many users took screenshots of the video, creating images like the one used above and in the thumbnail of this article. Those screenshots were often captioned with hard-to-verify claims, like that the explosion was targeting the nearby Palestine Stadium or a mosque in Palestine Square.
⚡️The Israeli army blows up the entire area of the Palestine Mosque in the Al-Rimal neighborhood, even though they were stationed there for a whole month
The goal is simple, ethnic cleansing, to destroy the homes of the Palestinians so that they cannot return, and… pic.twitter.com/fxOjL5S5o7
— Megatron (@Megatron_ron) December 21, 2023
A reverse-image search on Google using one of the images turned up plenty of matches, including articles reporting on the blast from Israeli publications like Haaretz and the Times of Israel. The sources for these articles, however, were limited to the Israeli military. Although there is no reason to suspect that the images or video were edited in any way, the military has a vested interest in appearing strong and capable, and therefore Snopes cannot say definitively who caused the explosion or why it happened until we receive confirmation from a second, (ideally) non-military source. Snopes contacted several non-partisan organizations in order to get more details on the explosion, and will update this story with more information as we receive it.
Snopes was able to geo-locate the images and video by identifying the group of buildings present in the bottom left corner of the images and from a map of Sheikh Radwan Cemetery. Then, we used Google Maps and the roads present in the photos to determine the direction from which the video was taken.
We also identified a white-roofed building found on the right edge of the photos as the Saad Sayel gym. This confirmed that the detonation missed Palestine Stadium, located across the street from the gym, contrary to one of the captions we found on social media. We concluded that the explosion was centered on Palestine Square, which does have a mosque. That location matched what was reported by the Times of Israel.