A video showing two hooded men shooting at pictures of what appear to be two Christian party leaders in Lebanon, as well as an Israeli flag, has been going viral in Lebanon.
In the video, men use shooting targets with the faces of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and the head of the Kataeb party, Sami Gemayel. Patrick Richa, the Kataeb party's spokesperson, shared the clip on social media.
Many social media users have claimed that Hezbollah is behind the video — but is this true?
We at L'Orient Today have examined the video, so we can debunk the claim.
What do the images show?
In the video two men, armed with Kalashnikov-style assault rifles, shoot at pictures of Samir Geagea and Sami Gemayel, as well as an Israeli flag. Behind them is an unregistered civilian model of a Jeep four-by-four.
The close-up shots in the video purportedly show the paper targets being shattered after bullets from a Kalashnikov hit them.
But if you look carefully you can see that the targets were already perforated before being hit by the gunmen. These first perforations look likely to be from assault rifle ammunition.
However, the impact we see in the actual video seemingly comes from a cartridge loaded with small birdshot pellets, used for bird hunting. This type of ammunition releases a multitude of pellets when fired, which would explain why the paper target explodes when it is shot at close range. This is the most likely hypothesis to explain what is seen in the footage.
In the illustration on the right below, the cardboard target does not shatter; it is more durable than a simple sheet of paper as seen in the video.
So, it seems there is a second type of weapon at play in the video, however that weapon is not shown.
This is not the usual practice of Hezbollah, which typically prefers to showcase the skill of its shooters by filming wide shots of both the shooter and the target, as you can see in the official video below.
The clothes of the two gunmen also raise doubts that Hezbollah was behind the video.
Both men are dressed more like informal militiamen than genuine troops. It is worth noting that Hezbollah is keen in its videos to present itself as a regular military force, showcasing its men in standard uniforms, as can be seen in the image below.
The anonymization of the gunmen also raises a question. In its videos, which are inspired by Hollywood productions, Hezbollah proudly displays its flag, often reworked to fit the graphics being shown as seen in the photo below.
The only element that would identify one of the gunmen as part of the pro-Iran militia is the yellow patch he wears on his bulletproof vest. This is far from the abundance of flags that normally characterize Hezbollah's propaganda videos.
Where does the video come from?
This is the question that raises concerns.
Patrick Richa told L'Orient-Le Jour that he received it via WhatsApp. However, the instant messaging application, which is a command culprit for information and misinformation alike, does not allow for tracking the original distributor of a publication in Lebanon, unlike Telegram, Facebook and Instagram.
One thing is certain, seemingly all the publications related to this video that can be found on the internet are based on Patrick Richa's post.
When contacted by L'Orient-Le Jour a spokesperson for Hezbollah confirmed having seen this video on Patrick Richa's account and stated that it is "fake."
"This kind of behavior is not in our usual practices. Those who publish such videos have no evidence to show that these images come from us."