Israel’s multibillion-dollar missile defense system, the Iron Dome, has been repelling air strike attacks since Hamas militants killed hundreds in a surprise attack on October 7.
About 2,750 Palestinians and more than 1,400 Israelis have died in the conflict, the Associated Press reported on Monday. Thousands more on both sides have been wounded, while 199 Israeli hostages were abducted and taken into Gaza, AP added.
Videos online recently suggested that Israel may have launched a state-of-the-art laser defense system known as the Iron Beam, thought to still be in development, to repel attacks.
Multiple videos posted on TikTok suggest that Israel’s Iron Dome weapons defense system is using lasers to target enemy ballistics.
One TikTok, posted by user @millitarykingss, posted on October 15, 2023, viewed 234,500 times, showed a video of two small dots across a sky lighting up and disappearing. A caption above the video states “ISRAEL LASER AIR DEFENSE USED FOR THE FIRST TIME.”
Another TikTok, posted by user @SpravgninewsUkraine, posted on October 15, 2023, showed what appeared to be a series of explosions across a sky. The video included the caption: “The video shows the operation of the latest Israeli laser air defense system ‘Iron Beam’. The laser hits targets.”
Neither video depicts or is thought to depict the Israeli Iron Beam system, the laser defense system tested for the first time last year.
The first video has been flagged multiple time on other social media networks as footage from the video game Arma 3. Footage from the game has been used in other misleading content attributed to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
One such video, which Newsweek assessed, showed what appeared to be helicopters being shot down, falsely described as Hamas shooting down Israeli air support.
In the other TikTok, what looks like a beam of light appears to be lens flare. Other clips available online of Israeli missile interception show that the effect in the footage shared on TikTok was a trick of the camera.
Reports strongly indicate that the laser system is not yet operational. An article by U.K. newspaper The Telegraph published on Monday said that the Iron Beam system, which had been scheduled to enter service in 2025, could be deployed sooner. It does not indicate that it has been deployed in current combat operations.
The 2025 deployment date has been repeated by the Australian Defence Magazine, National Defense Magazine and the Jewish News Syndicate.
Newsweek has reached out to Rafael, the manufacturer of the Iron Beam system, and the Israel Ministry of Defense for comment.
Neither video is proof of Israel using the anti-missile laser defense system it has developed. One of the most widely shared videos is footage from a video game, while the other appears to have picked up attention because a light effect in the video, caused by lens flare, looks like a beam of light. Multiple reports state the system is still in development.
FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team
Misleading Material: The claim is based on media that has been altered from its original form—such as an edited video or image—and is now misleading, misrepresentative, or deceptive, either intentionally or unintentionally. Read more about our ratings.