Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show Tunnel Between Gaza's Rafah And Egypt -- It Used To Connect Gaza And Israel

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show Tunnel Between Gaza's Rafah And Egypt -- It Used To Connect Gaza And Israel Not Rafah

Does a viral image show a tunnel between Gaza's Rafah and Egypt? No, that's not true: Previously published media reports and photos identify it as a tunnel that used to connect northern Gaza with Israel. It was discovered by the Israeli military near the Erez checkpoint in mid-December 2023.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X, formerly known as Twitter, on May 18, 2024. It began:

50 Rafah Tunnels to Egypt Unearthed. Everyone in Israel suspected and knew that all along. This proof is for the rest of the world to see.

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-05-28 at 10.16.36 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue May 28 14:16:36 2024 UTC)

The image went viral in mid-May 2024, around the time Israel announced (archived here) that it had discovered multiple tunnels connecting the border city of Rafah in southern Gaza with Egypt. In response, Egypt said (archived here) that it had destroyed those underground pathways a long time ago.

The available pieces of evidence show that the photo in question was taken earlier than that and that it captures the tunnel between Gaza and Israel, not Gaza and Egypt.

On January 7, 2024, the picture that is the focus of this fact check was published for the first time on Getty images (archived here) under the caption:

A view inside a tunnel that Hamas reportedly used on October 7th to attack Israel through the Erez border crossing ...

Noam Galai (archived here), a New York-based photographer who took the photo, also posted it on his Instagram (archived here) on the same day as well as other shots of the same location (archived here). The caption also said that it was the tunnel near the Erez border crossing.

The underground pathway in northern Gaza was discovered in mid-December 2023, and shortly after, Israel organized a press tour bringing in several media organizations to take pictures of the tunnel and videotape it. For example, it can be seen in reports published by CBS News (archived here) and AP (archived here).

The Erez border crossing (archived here) is located on the opposite side of Gaza, in the north, roughly 27 miles from Gaza's border with Egypt (archived here) in Rafah.

The same claim was previously reviewed by Reuters and Snopes.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to the Hamas-Israel war that began on October 7, 2023, can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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