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Disputed Claims: Israel Exhibits Images of Missile Launcher Allegedly Adjacent to a Gaza Playground

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
News
9th November 2023
Disputed Claims: Israel Exhibits Images of Missile Launcher Allegedly Adjacent to a Gaza Playground
A picture that Israel claimed was of a missile launch pad (X)

On November 5, the spokesperson for the Israeli army's Arabic media, Avichay Adraee, published a set of photos on X. In the captions, he claimed that Israeli forces had uncovered missile launch platforms that the resistance had set up in a playground and next to swimming pools designated for children in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

Adraee added, "As part of the combat being waged by the Israeli Forces in northern Gaza, specifically in Beit Hanoun, the forces discovered and found rocket launchers next to a swimming pool designated for children and rocket launchers in an old amusement park in Gaza. This is another piece of evidence of how Hamas uses civilians as human shields to achieve its terrorist objectives.”

Hours later, the official Israeli army's account on X posted a video clip of one of the soldiers talking about the location, accompanied by the description, "Children and swings and a swimming pool and rockets. One of these things is not like the others. Hamas hides rocket launch platforms in children's playgrounds." In the clip, the soldier says, "As you can see here, a quad rocket's launch platform is aimed towards Israel, just five meters away from a children's swimming pool, and about 20-30 meters from residential buildings. All of this is in the midst of a residential neighborhood."

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A Launching Platform in an Empty Sandy Field

The images published by the Israeli army and their spokespersons appear to show what looks like the "Ship Swing." To the right of it, there is an electric bumper car arena in a sandy area with some grassy patches. On the other side of the road, there is a short white building with solar panels on its roof, and four white water tanks, with the sea in the background.

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By searching for these landmarks north of the Gaza Strip using various satellite images, Misbar was able to pinpoint the location of the sandy field where these images were taken. It became evident that this location was not in the town of Beit Hanoun, as claimed by the Israeli army, but rather in the Museum area, northwest of the Gaza Strip, adjacent to al-Rashid Street, and approximately 4.2 kilometers away from the northern separation barrier.

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When examining the details of the image published by the Israeli army, Misbar noticed the presence of rust and some cracks in the swing set, as well as the broken net surrounding the bumper car arena and the presence of dust in it. There were no other games or recreational facilities usually found in children's amusement parks, and no signs of shelling in the vicinity of the field, indicating the possibility that it has been abandoned for some time.

By using Google Earth Pro, which allows browsing and changing satellite image archives over time, Misbar tracked all the images taken of the same sandy field.

Misbar observed that the field was a green meadow in 2004, and then the satellite images did not capture new images of the field until 2016. In the image from that year, Misbar found that the field had indeed become a children's amusement park, surrounded by some chalets and rooms overlooking the sea for summer vacations.

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A picture of the sand yard in 2004
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A picture of the sand yard in 2016

However, in October 2017, after removing the playground equipment from it, Misbar noticed that the field had been bulldozed from its southern section. In 2019, it became evident that it had been completely bulldozed, and it remains bulldozed to this day, according to satellite images.

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A picture showing the bulldozing of the southern section of the sand yard in 2017
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A photo showing the entire sand yard being swept away in 2019
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Image showing the continued bulldozing of the entire sand yard

The Israeli Army Publishes a Video that Contradicts the Reality of the Images

In the video posted by the Israeli army, the soldier claims to be standing in front of the rocket launching platform set up "in a children's park in Beit Hanoun." However, there are visible signs of damage, broken concrete, and tiles in the surrounding area, suggesting it has been subjected to heavy shelling. Yet, recent images of the area, also posted by the Israeli army itself, indicate that the playground has not been shelled. The site is entirely surrounded by open sandy ground, with no concrete or tiles in the vicinity.

جندي إسرائيلي يدّعي أنه بجانب منصة إطلاق صواريخ تابعة للمقاومة
An Israeli soldier claims to be next to a resistance missile launch pad
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A photo of the sand yard published by the Israeli army

Furthermore, the Israeli soldier featured in the video claims that the platform is "only five meters away from a children's swimming pool."

صورة لادعاء جندي إسرائيلي بوجود منصة إطلاق صواريخ قرب بركة سباحة مخصصة للأطفال
A picture of an Israeli soldier claiming that there is a rocket launcher near a swimming pool designated for children

However, when examining the surroundings of the dirt field through satellite images, it becomes evident that the nearest swimming pool is located 75 meters away.

صورة تظهر المسافة بين الساحة الترابية وأقرب بركة سباحة منها
An image showing the distance between the sand yard and the nearest swimming pool

The actual measurement of the pool shows it to be 10 meters in length, which is a typical size for an adult swimming pool. This indicates that the soldier intentionally reduced the distance and claimed it was for children. This confirms that the soldier's assertion is baseless, as the real distance is not five meters as he claimed, and the pool is not a children's pool according to the data provided above.

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A satellite image showing the length of the nearest swimming pool to the sand yard

In the second 16 of the video, just before its end, the soldier raises the flashlight he has with him to show the surroundings of what he claimed to be the missile launch platform. To the east and southeast of it, destroyed buildings are visible that have been subjected to heavy shelling. He claims that the platform is only about 30 or 40 meters away from a residential building.

الأبنية المدمرة الظاهرة في الفيديو الذي زعم الجيش الإسرائيلي أنه من حديقة أطفال
The destroyed buildings shown in the video, which the Israeli army claimed was from a children's park

However, satellite images show that the closest building that can be seen from the sand field where the Israeli army claimed there was a missile launch platform is located about 85 meters to the east, and it is not a residential building. It is actually a chalet situated in a tourist area, not a residential one, and it has been completely emptied of residents. There is no nearby building to the southeast.

صورة توضح المسافة بين الساحة الترابية وأقرب مبنى يمكن رؤيته منها
An image showing the distance between the sand yard and the nearest building that can be seen from it

In conclusion, the Israeli army presented an image of a location it claims to be a missile launch platform near a children's swimming pool in a park within a residential complex in the town of Beit Hanoun in northeastern Gaza. However, open-source images and data suggest that the image is of an abandoned site in the museum area, which is located in the northwestern part of the Gaza Strip, over 5 kilometers away from Beit Hanoun. There is no children's swimming pool in its vicinity, nor are there any residential buildings.

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