On Friday, May 21, a ceasefire was announced in Israel, marking a truce between Israel and Hamas after more than 10 days of fighting in the Gaza Strip.
As the airstrikes were being widely reported across the globe, one photo in particular was circulated across Twitter and on Facebook ads showing an Israeli F-15I flying over a city, with a large explosion in the background.
Was this photo actually taken during the airstrikes in 2021?
No, this photo is not from the recent bombings in the Gaza Strip.
WHAT WE FOUND
Using reverse image search engines Google, Bing, TinEye and Yandex, VERIFY found that the image isn’t a photograph from an airstrike at all. It is a CGI animation created exclusively for The Aviationist, a military aviation website, in 2012 (article without the image archived here).
According to the article from the Aviationist, the animation “shows how an attack by a formation of F-15Is on a nuclear facility located in downtown Tehran might look like.”
The original image shows the Milad Tower, Iran’s tallest building, in the background, while the image posted to Twitter was edited to remove the viewing deck. Using Google Maps, VERIFY can confirm the original image shows downtown Tehran, and not Gaza City where the airstrikes recently were targeted.
The image was featured in a Facebook ad that ran from May 15 to May 17, paid for by the campaign for Martin Hyde, a Sarasota, Florida, Republican candidate vying for a seat in Florida’s 16th Congressional District.
The ad was removed by Facebook for violating advertising policies, but the data from its time active remained on the Facebook Ad Library archive.
According to the statistics, the ad ran from May 15 to May 17 and had between 9,000 and 10,000 impressions, the number of times it was viewed in total, in those two days. The ad could have been viewed by the same person multiple times.
On May 11, the Israeli Air Force tweeted: “Up until this time, approximately 480 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory and approximately 150 rockets were fired at Israeli territory and exploded within Gaza Strip.” In response to the tweet, user @geert_talsma wrote, “Hit them hard!” with the photo of an Israeli F-15I leaving the scene of a massive explosion.
Historically, the image has been shared in connection to many international airstrikes, shared cross mainstream and obscure places on the internet. For instance, in 2015, the image was circulated on a Persian blog post detailing the history of ceasefires between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.