A claim that the Palestinian militant group beheaded dozens of babies gained prominence in the days after the massacre, amplified at the highest levels of the US and Israeli even though it was a fabrication. So why did a weakly sourced claim about 40 beheaded babies travel far and wide?
Experts on disinformation and the Middle East say it was due to the emotional response the violence against children generates by all right-thinking people. But was this response justified?
PolitiFact.com is an American not-for-profit project run by the Poynter Institute in Florida, USA, that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others. It examined the origin of the ‘beheaded babies’ claim and documented how US and Israeli politicians and media repeated the false story.
On the 10 October, reporter Nicole Zedek of i24 News, an Israeli news channel, said that Israeli soldiers told her that infants had been killed in the attack on Kibbutz Kfar and they saw babies with their heads cut off. She later posted on X saying, ‘soldiers told me they believe 40 babies or children were killed’.
On 11 October, news outlets in the US and United Kingdom, including The Independent, The Daily Mail, CNN, Fox News and the New York Post, repeated the claim that Hamas had beheaded babies, citing Israeli media or the prime minister’s office as sources.
Hamas dismissed these false claims and stated that they were contrary to its ethics and Islam.
On 11 October, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN that babies and toddlers were found in Kfar Aza with their ‘heads decapitated’. The next morning, CNN reported that the Israeli government could not confirm the claim that Hamas beheaded babies, contradicting the previous statement from the prime minister’s office.
President Joe Biden also repeated the claim during a round-table discussion with Jewish leaders on 11 October saying, ‘I never really thought that I would see and have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children’. But the White House later told CNN that Biden had neither seen such photos nor received confirmation that Hamas beheaded babies or children. He had made a mistake! How could anyone make such a mistake? Obviously Biden was arse-licking his Jewish-American financial backers with a blatant lie.
With Joe Biden in charge, God sure needs to bless America! His brazen bare-faced lie coupled with the unquestioning support of the media in the US and UK created a veritable tsunami of hatred for the Palestinian rebels that was almost visceral … a true triumph for propaganda!
All this despite the fact that other journalists on the ground in Kfar Aza, including Oren Ziv of +972 Magazine, which covers Israel and Palestine, and Samuel Forey of Le Monde, a French news outlet, said their reporting did not corroborate the report off babies being beheaded.