With fighting between Israel and terrorists from the Gaza Strip now wrapping its second day, misinformation about the war and U.S. military assistance is spreading online. A fake Biden administration document pledging $8 billion in military aid is going viral on social media.
There is no corroboration of the report and the image being shared is wholly manufactured. As BBC Verify journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh noted on Twitter, the alleged document is actually a doctored version of a Biden White House memo from July. The real document was about $400 million in aid being sent to Ukraine as it fights Russia’s invasion of its territory, not about Israel.
The United States is supporting Israel and is the largest arms supplier to the nation. Israel heavily utilizes American weapons and munitions. The White House and Pentagon have signaled increased material support for Israel since the fighting began but no arms package has been announced. The Department of Defense has announced changes to its posture in response to Hamas’ attack on Israel and Israel’s declaration of war. It has sent the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the eastern Mediterranean Sea as a deterrent and is bolstering fighter jet squadrons already in the Middle East. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Sunday that more equipment and munitions are heading to Israel, but no price tag or details were shared.
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Unverified information has gone viral on social media since the fighting started Saturday morning. Along with unsubstantiated claims and outright lies, old images and videos of fighting — some from Israel and Gaza, others from other conflicts — have been shared as if they were new events from the weekend. That has ranged from old footage of airstrikes on Gaza being presented as fresh, or pictures of Israeli special operations labeled as being Hamas militants. Misinformation has also included 1950s nuclear weapons testing footage used in conjunction with the false claim that Israel was planning to conduct a nuclear strike on the Gaza Strip. There are also unverified claims that American weapons left in Afghanistan were used in Hamas’ attack; they were not and the article cited only mentioned the possibility that could happen. None of these viral claims are true.
The fake $8 billion aid package claim is the second major bit of misinformation spreading this weekend about large sums of money trading hands. On Saturday several pundits and elected officials falsely claimed that Hamas’ operation was financed by $6 billion in Iranian oil profits that the United States unfroze as part of a September deal to free five Americans in Iranian custody. The claim, repeatedly disproven by reporters and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has been shared by multiple members of Congress throughout the weekend, including three Republican senators and a Republican member of the House of Representatives, as well as former President Donald Trump. The money is currently being held by a Qatari bank, with the Treasury Department keeping an eye on it, and can not be directly used by Iran, but to contract outside third-party humanitarian aid.
Update: This story was edited after publishing to change ‘militants’ to ‘terrorists’ as the description of who attacked Israel.
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