Gaza white flag shooting: ITV News analyses how the incident unfolded frame-by-frame

Ramzi Abu Sahloul was fatally shot while walking in a group carrying a white flag in Gaza. Credit: ITV News

By ITV News Content Producer Lottie Kilraine and Security Producer Dan Howells

When ITV News first broadcast footage of a Palestinian man shot dead while walking in a group carrying a white flag in Gaza, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) told us it was not aware of the incident.

The IDF then claimed the video - which prompted accusations of an Israeli war crime from around the world - "is clearly edited".

Here, ITV News uses multiple camera angles of the shooting, satellite imagery, geolocation and newly released expert ballistics evidence to analyse how the incident unfolded.

The footage filmed by Mohammed Abu Safia, a cameraman working for ITV News, shows a group of men tentatively walking down a road with their hands up, and one is holding a white flag - an international symbol of surrender.

One of the men - Ramzi Abu Sahloul - is interviewed and says he is attempting to reach his mother and brother to escort them out of harm’s way. A drone can be heard overhead.

Once the interview is complete, the cameraman walks away and the group of men continue on their way. A round of gunshots can be heard and Mr Abu Sahloul is fatally hit.

(Circled in red) Mohammed Abu Safia, a cameraman working for ITV News, can be seen filming his footage in a video shot from another angle. Credit: ITV News

Fearful for his own safety, the cameraman working for ITV News stops filming for around five seconds. The IDF said this was evidence that the video had been edited.

The footage captured by Mr Abu Safia has been synced with another video obtained by ITV News which shows the same incident from a different angle and is filmed continuously.

This shows what happened during the gap in the original ITV News footage that was aired in January.

Later in both videos, another round of gunshots can be heard and the group of civilians are seen sheltering next to Mr Abu Sahloul's lifeless body.

The clip was first aired on ITV News at Ten on January 23, and consisted of footage filmed the previous day, Monday January 22.

ITV News cameraman describes what he saw

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Abu Safia said military vehicles circled nearby as he interviewed the group of men prior to the shooting, he said he noticed a light coming from the gun of a nearby sniper.

This matches up with the video obtained by ITV News that shows his footage from another angle.

Mr Abu Safia said: "I heard a sniper’s gun fire. That was the only fire noise. I stopped recording, and I was wondering if I was in danger or if it was a warning firing. I realised then the man was shot."

He stopped recording for around five seconds after hearing the gunfire, but then began recording again.

Mohammed Abu Safia is the filmmaker and producer was working in Al-Mawasi when he saw a man holding a white flag get shot. Credit: ITV News

"I approached slowly to see what happened to the man. I saw how the man was shot in his heart. His sons came to him to take him. They tried to carry him, we were fired at again," he said.

"The man was shot before my eyes. They tried to save him but couldn’t. It was a direct shot to his heart," Mr Abu Safia added.

Audio ballistic expert analysis of the gunfire

From the sound of a visible bullet, researchers at Earshot could trace the origin of the gunshot.

A total of six shots were fired, caught on the footage filmed by the ITV News cameraman.

The rapid succession of gunfire indicates there were two or more firearms users involved.

Each of the gunshots make two distinct sounds.

As one bullet passes the camera, researchers identified the supersonic crack of the bullet breaking the sound barrier.

By using the speed of sound, the value between crack and blast allowed investigators at Earshot to establish that the shooter was 330 metres away from the camera.

The distance perfectly aligns with the position of the tanks to the east of the camera's location.

A still from the footage obtained by ITV News, shows a bullet strikes the wall just above the men's head. Credit: ITV News

Direction of the gunfire

ITV News has analysed the direction of the gunfire that killed Mr Abu Sahloul.

The person who fires the fatal shot is not seen in the video, but before the gunfire, the camera pans around the scene which shows what appears to be an Israeli tank positioned nearby.

Before the shots are fired, the camera pans around the scene which shows what appears to be an Israeli tank positioned nearby. Credit: ITV News

Using satellite imagery and geolocation, ITV News was able to publish the location of where the tanks were positioned in proximity to the University of Al-Asqa and other notable buildings.

Research group Forensic Architecture shared their geolocation of another video from earlier in the day that shows tanks in the same location, helping verify the findings of ITV News.

Location of Israeli tanks can be seen in a clip posted on social media, which can be geo-located using a satellite map. Credit: Planet/Forensic Architecture

In another video shot on the same day close to the University Al-Asqa, what appears to be a bulldozer can be seen, showing that IDF military were in the area surrounding the University.

What appears to be a bulldozer is caught on film close to the University Al-Asqa. Credit: Amjad al Fayoumi/ITV News

Presence of displaced civilians in the area

The satellite pictures, taken by Planet, show the road and surrounding area of Khan Younis where the ITV News footage was filmed.

The first image was taken on October 15, 2023, and the second image was taken on January 15, 2024.

In the images there are white tents which shows that displaced civilians had been sheltering on the grounds in and around the Al-Aqsa University.

Unclear evacuation order

Mr Abu Sahloul’s widow, 50-year-old Hanan Abu Sahloul, said that in the hours before the shooting, the Israeli military had entered a building where the family was sheltering along with over 300 others.

Mrs Abu Sahloul said that the IDF ordered residents to leave without their belongings.

“When I tried to take my bag, a soldier aimed his gun at my head and ordered me to leave it,” she said.

Ramzi Abu Sahloul said he was attempting to reach his mother (left) and brother to escort them out of harm’s way.. Credit: Supplied

The map, released by the IDF, shows how the different blocks (in blue) are divided. The red circle added by ITV News shows the road where Ramzi Abu Sahloul was shot.

The map, which was published in December, states: "Anyone who sees the block number in which he lives or is near it must track and follow the instructions of the IDF through various media outlets and obey them."

The map shows how the different blocks (in blue) and the red circle shows the road where Ramzi Abu Sahloul was shot. Credit: IDF/ITV News

The closest evacuation order ITV News could find documented online was issued by an IDF Arabic spokesman Avichay Adraee on the morning of January 23, the day after Mr Abu Sahloul was shot.

The order, posted in Arabic on X, formerly Twitter, translated into English reads: "To the residents of the Khan Younis area in the neighborhoods of Al-Nasr, Al-Amal, City Center and the camp (the camp) in Blocks 107-112: For your safety, you must move immediately to the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi via Al-Bahr Street."

When asked by ITV News to clarify the exact time and date of the evacuation order was issued for blocks 107-112, an IDF spokesperson said: "The IDF increased its operational effort in Khan Younis as part of efforts to dismantle the Hamas terrorist organisation, who cynically embedded themselves in the civilian area.

"The presence of civilians in the area affected the operational plan, and at the start of military activity in the area the IDF notified the civilian population in a variety of ways to evacuate westward to the humanitarian area."

When pressed further on whether Mr Adraee's post on X was the time the evacuation notice was issued for the blocks, the IDF declined to elaborate further - but added: "there is also a time and date under this tweet".

Israeli commander indicates IDF fired the shots

A senior Israeli commander has given the strongest indication yet that military forces were responsible for gunshots fired in the footage.

In an interview with ABC News, Brig. General Dan Goldfuss, commander of the IDF 98th Division, revealed they are now investigating the incident but remained adamant his troops do not fire at civilians, adding: "There are mistakes, it is war".

This video contains distressing images

When questioned over the footage filmed by a cameraman, employed by ITV News to cover the war in Gaza, General Goldfuss said: "Yes, those are my troops and I'm investigating that incident.

"That is not the way we carry out our rules of engagement. No, we don't fire at people waving white flags. We don't fire at civilians."

When the ABC journalist responded "but, you do sometimes", Goldfuss replied: "We don't."

He continued: "There are mistakes, it is war. This is not a machine working, these are people."

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