Images of detained and stripped Palestinians apparently surrendering some weapons to Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip have prompted speculation about the circumstances of the events and the filming.
Initially, two videos of what appeared to be the same scene – a man in his underwear obeying instructions to lay down a weapon – but with slight differences, sparked speculation it may have been filmed repeatedly for separate “takes”.
BBC Verify has examined the footage and established that both clips came from a continuous sequence in which three guns in total appear to be handed over. But questions remain about the exact circumstances and the release of the videos.
Two separate clips depicting the same scene but with minor discrepancies circulated on social media on Saturday 9 December. This led to accusations that different “takes” had been filmed. Some pointed to how the man in the video was holding the gun in a different hand in the two scenes.
BBC Verify has found that in fact these videos are different sections of a continuous sequence, not separate takes, and the same man is going to and fro bringing different guns to the pavement with their detached ammunition.
In the footage, dozens of other men are seen standing across the road watching, also in their underwear, many of them with their arms aloft and holding identity cards. BBC Verify has established they are in front of a UN school in Beit Lahia, north of the Jabalia refugee camp.
One video, which we know was shot first because of the position of the sun, shows the man placing a gun from his right hand on top of another on the pavement. In the next video, with the sun lower, the man places a different gun on top of those from his left hand. Still images corroborate and bookend this sequence, with one showing the very first gun being placed, and another showing the resulting three guns and magazines on the pavement.
There are still some questions raised by the footage. Notably, the man is being held at gunpoint and issued directions from off-screen, so it’s unclear whether he is “surrendering” the weapons or just moving them as instructed. Given he is already in his underwear and he cannot have been concealing them on his person, it’s unlikely Israeli troops did not know about these weapons, suggesting this may be performed for the camera, rather than as an act of authentic surrender. We also don’t know if he, or any of the other individuals in the video, have any involvement with Hamas or the 7 October attack.
In one of the videos, the end of what seems to be a DSLR zoom lens is briefly visible. There were also photographs circulating alongside the videos which were captured from a slightly different angle. This suggests the events were filmed or photographed by more than one person or camera.
Over the past week, emotive images of Palestinians being detained in Gaza have provoked strong reactions – with some expressing concern over the treatment of the prisoners, and the Red Cross saying all detainees must be treated in accordance with international law.
But Israel has been keen to show evidence it’s making progress against Hamas in Gaza. On Sunday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “In recent days, dozens of Hamas terrorists have surrendered to our forces. They are laying down their weapons and handing themselves over to our heroic fighters.
“It will take more time, the war is in full swing, but this is the beginning of the end for Hamas.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not respond directly to questions about the circumstances of these videos but a spokesperson told the BBC that detained individuals “are treated in accordance with international law”.
“It is often necessary for terror suspects to hand over their clothes such that their clothes can be searched and to ensure that they are not concealing explosive vests or other weaponry.”
Additional reporting by Paul Brown