A video supposedly showing an assassination attempt on Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has been circulating widely on X (formerly Twitter) since November 7. However, it turns out that the video actually shows a police drug raid on a refugee camp near Ramallah in the West Bank on November 7.
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If you only have a minute
- On November 7, a number of X accounts posted a video they claimed showed an assassination attempt on Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.
- However, the day the video started circulating online, the spokesperson of the Palestinian security services, Talal Dweikat, said the video actually shows a drug raid carried out by the Palestinian Civil Police Force on the Jalazone refugee camp located near Ramallah. A local media outlet also reported this.
- Our team reached out to the Palestinian authorities but, for the time being, have not received a response.
The fact-check, in detail
“WARNING: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was the victim of an assassination attempt. His convoy came under fire,” reads a tweet, translated from French, posted by the X account Arab Intelligence in the middle of the afternoon on November 7. Arab Intelligence says in its bio that it is a news site for information about the Arab world.
The post, which garnered more than 700,000 views before it was taken down, also claimed that one of Abbas’s security agents was shot in the head and killed.
Hundreds of other accounts also shared this rumour – within just a few hours, the news had gone viral internationally.
Aby Belarusian news outlet Nexta featuring the video has garnered more than 1.9 million views since it was posted on November 7. The story spread quickly on X in Arabic, with some garnering more than two million views. Some international media outlets, like the Russian press agency , also reported that Abbas’s convoy was attacked.
Most of these posts featured videos showing an exchange of gunfire between two groups in a town centre. The footage most widely shared shows bullets raining down on a group of armed men standing next to a black pick-up truck. One of them falls to the ground, seemingly shot.
A police drug raid
However, none of these videos show an assassination attempt on Mahmoud Abbas. The footage was filmed on November 7 during a police raid on drug traffickers in the Jalazone refugee camp located near Ramallah in the West Bank.
The first posts on X about the drug raids appeared around 11am Paris time on November 7 (here’s one). That means they were shared online before the false rumour about the assassination started to circulate. A local media outlet in Ramallah, Khabar24, also shared this video on and before 12pm Paris time.
Khabar24 said in its posts that a captain in the security forces of the Palestinian Authority was injured by shots fired by a criminal gang in the Jalazone camp during an attempt to arrest a drug trafficker.
This information aligns with the statement posted ona few hours later by the spokesperson for the Palestinian security forces, Talal Dweikat.
“Six members of the Palestinian security forces were injured, including one seriously, during a raid for a person wanted in drug cases,” Dweikat said in the statement, translated from Arabic.
Our team was able tothe specific site where the police raid took place by analysing several different videos posted on X ( and ) of the incident filmed from different angles.
A stone building (outlined in dark green in the image below) appears in two different videos of the incident, filmed at different angles. We were able to locate this building on Google Maps thanks to its distinctive vertical balconies.
In the first video, filmed from the location marked with a red star (), you can see a white roof that also appears in the satellite image (marked in light blue). In the second video, filmed from the location marked with a blue star, you can see a roof made of orange tiles (marked in red), a uniquely shaped white building (marked in light green) and a minaret that also appears in the background of the video below (in purple).
Our team reached out to the Palestinian Authority but has not yet heard back.
A document with unknown origins
Some accounts on X went further than just sharing rumours about the assassination attempt on Abbas – they also claimed to know who had carried out the attack. French-Algerian journalist, along with others, claimed that this (fake) assassination attempt was the work of a Palestinian group known as the Sons of Abu Jandal.
This Palestinian group was unknown up until this point. It claims to be made up of members of the security forces of the Palestinian Authority’s security who have links to Fatah.
This document says that if the president of the Palestinian Authority didn’t “take a clear position declaring an open confrontation with the [Israeli] occupation”, the group would consider rebelling.
While many questions remain about this document and its authors – including its veracity – that hasn’t stopped some accounts from claiming that this group was behind the (fake) assassination attempt.
Mahmoud Abbas, a president weakened by the conflict in Gaza
As Israel’s offensive in Gaza in response to the October 7 Hamas attack continues, the president of the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank, has found himself under increasing criticism from the Palestinian population, who say that he has not taken hard enough action against Israel.
However, Abbas’s popularity was already low before the war. An opinion poll published in September by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), said that 78% of Palestinians were in favour of 88-year-old Abbas resigning.
The Palestinian Authority has been in power since 2005. However, after Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007, they now only control parts of the West Bank.
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