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No, this US navy fleet is not yet en route to Israel

June 25, 2024

As tensions between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah continue to escalate, false claims about military buildups on both sides are proliferating online. DW fact-checks several of these claims.

A post on X claiming the USS Theodore Roosevelt is on its way to the coast of Israel
A post on X claiming the USS Theodore Roosevelt is on its way to the coast of IsraelImage: X/@Megatron_ron

Israel and Lebanon have been exchanging fire for months, with the conflict threatening to escalate into a full-scale war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that the end of the intense phase of fighting in Gaza would allow Israel to deploy more forces along the northern border with Lebanon. Israeli officials have threatened a military offensive into Lebanon if there is no negotiated end to push Hezbollah, a powerful Shia militia in Lebanon, away from the border.

These rising tensions have led to a surge of unsubstantiated claims and fake videos on social media over the weekend. DW investigated a few of them:

US Navy fleet on its way to the Mediterranean?

Claim: "The USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently on its way to deploy to the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea due to the expected war with Hezbollah," alleges a post on X, published on June 22. The tweet reached about 2.2 million users at the time of this article's publication. This claim was echoed in multiple posts on X, each garnering tens of thousands of views.

DW Verdict: False.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt is taking part in a military drillwith South Korea and Japanthis week. On Sunday, USNI NEWS, a news website associated with the United States Naval Institute, reported that the fleet will head to the Middle East after the drill. However, claims that it is currently en route to the Middle East are incorrect.

Fact check: Fake videos from Iran's attack on Israel

Fake images about the military buildup in Israel

As with any crisis, many old videos and images are resurfacing online, falsely claiming to depict recent developments. In the case of the recent tensions between Israel and Lebanon, some videos have gained traction, allegedly showing the Israeli army moving towards the border with Lebanon, or receiving military aid from the US landing in Tel Aviv airport.

Claim: This video (archived here) shows Israeli troops on their way to Lebanon. The footage, apparently recorded from a moving vehicle, shows a line of tanks with Israeli banners along a highway. A post on X captioned it as follows: "The Israeli Army moves North to liberate Lebanon, for more than 48 hours continuously." Published on June 24, the video garnered about 11,000 views. Another post in Spanish, published the same day, made similar claims and gained about 313,000 views and was shared by about a thousand accounts.

A Spanish post on X claiming that Israeli troops move up north
A Spanish post on X claiming that Israeli troops move up northImage: X/@AlertaNews24

DW Verdict: False.
The video is old and does not depict the recent deployment of the Israeli army to the Lebanese border. A reverse search of one of the video screenshots reveals that the footage has been published multiple times over the past months. One version of it was posted on X in March, and another surfaced in October 2023 on Tiktok.

An Arab post on X claiming that Israeli troops move up north
An Arab post on X claiming that Israeli troops move up northImage: X/@hodajannat

More instances of old footage paired with new claims continue to surface online. One video, published today on X with Arabic captions, claimed to show "Large Israeli army forces heading from south to north in preparation for war with the Hezbollah terrorist organization." However, a reverse search proved that the video is at least a few months old and has been published several times, for example, in May.

Was a US plane spotted transporting weapons?

Claim: A US Air Force plane was spotted landing in Ben Gurion Airport, allegedly carrying weapons.  This post on X gained more than 7,000 views.

DW Verdict: Unproven.
A reverse image search revealed that the plane shown in the picture is a US military Boeing C-17 Globemaster, a military cargo plane intended for transporting goods.

By tracking the route of that particular plane type, we can confirm that a plane did indeed land at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel on June 24 at 10 a.m. local time. It was in-bound from Cyprus on a flight that took 35 minutes. It's unclear whether that plane was carrying weapons. 

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Edited by: Sarah Steffen, Joscha Weber

Correction: An earlier version mentioned a tracking site to check the current position of the US navy vessel, but it failed to show the live position, so we took it out.