The Hamas militant group has carried out executions during its time governing the Gaza Strip, but videos circulating recently do not show the Palestinian Islamist group killing people by throwing them off a roof. The clip actually shows Islamic State militants executing civilians in Iraq in 2015, SITE Intelligence Group and media reports confirm.
"Hamas executes people by throwing them off a roof of a building," says the caption of December 1, 2023 video posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.
The grainy video appears to show people pushing others off a roof four stories above the ground. Similar versions of the video with the claim that it showed executions performed by Hamas militants were posted on X and spread to Facebook, where screenshots in some posts indicated the claim had also proliferated widely on Telegram.
Social media is flooded with posts related to the Israel-Hamas war that was triggered by the Palestinian militant group's cross-border raid from Gaza into southern Israel on October 7, which killed 1,200 people -- mostly civilians -- and saw around 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli authorities.
Israel has responded to the unprecedented attack with an offensive aiming to destroy Hamas that has reduced much of Gaza to rubble. Since the start of Israel's military operation in the coastal Palestinian territory, more than 18,400 people have been killed, also mostly civilians, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.
AFP has reported on public executions in Gaza prior to the war. In September 2022, Hamas executed two people accused of being "collaborators" with Israel, along with three others accused of murder -- the first death sentences carried out in five years. Reports said these were carried out by hanging or firing squad.
In August 2023, a Hamas tribunal handed down seven more death sentences by hanging.
Video not related to HamasA July 2, 2015 article in the British tabloid The Mirror (archived here) is headlined: "ISIS execution: Terror group proudly posts pictures of militants throwing 'gay' men from tall building," with images that resemble the video. A similar headline appeared around the same time in the Daily Mail.
The building seen in the photos has similar characteristics to those in the video purportedly depicting executions performed by Hamas, including the four-story height and the curved features above the windows.
The Islamic State jihadist group overtook large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and declared a cross-border caliphate which imposed a fundamentalist view of Islam in the region. The IS group lost the final area of its territory in March 2019 but still carries out attacks.
In 2015, the UN Security Council was told of public executions of members of the LGBTQ community in Syria and Iraq. Jessica Stern, then-director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said the IS group put videos and photos online to advertise the killings.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist and white-supremacist organizations, confirmed to AFP in a December 7, 2023 email that the video was related to incidents seen in a July 1, 2015 IS photo release (archived here), depicting executions performed by the group in the Fallujah region of Iraq.
The claims recently connecting the video to Hamas were accompanied by a hashtag equating the Palestinian militant group to IS. During the recent violence, Israeli officials have compared Hamas's attacks to those carried out by IS.
While both groups are known for committing brutal attacks, frequently targeting civilians, the stated goals of the two groups differ, with Hamas controlling Gaza and prioritizing the establishment a Palestinian state by any means necessary.
AFP has previously fact-checked images connecting Hamas to executions of gay people committed by IS. While the group was also not involved in these executions, UN Watch has presented reports documenting mistreatment and torture of LGBTQ people by Hamas (archived here).
Read more of AFP's reporting on misinformation surrounding the Israel-Hamas war here.