Media Play Defense for Hamas: 'Disinformation' To Say Mutilated Israeli Babies Were Beheaded

(Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
October 13, 2023

All decent people were horrified by reports from Israel this week that Hamas terrorists beheaded babies during a bloody rampage through the country that sparked a war. For some journalists, though, the horror was not that the Israeli babies were slaughtered but that the accounts of the killings might make Islamist terrorists look bad.

Reporters at prominent news outlets warned that claims the Palestinian barbarians beheaded the babies they undeniably killed lacked sufficient confirmation. The "disinformation" could play into "Islamophobic" stereotypes about terrorists and put Palestinian lives at risk, they said, echoing pervasive anti-Israel media bias in coverage of the conflict.

Snopes, Oct. 13: "Were Israeli Babies Beheaded by Hamas Militants During Attack on Kfar Aza?":

As violence escalated in Israel and Palestine in early October 2023, politicians, news media, and activists in the U.S. and U.K. spread a rumor about Hamas fighters supposedly beheading as many as 40 Israeli infants. As we looked into the claim, we found contradictory reports from journalists, Israeli army officials, and almost no independent corroborations of the alleged war crime, leading to concerns among fact-checkers that such a claim may be premature or unsubstantiated. ...

People should be wary of claims that echo Islamophobic rhetoric, or statements that compare the violence in Kfar Aza to "ISIS-style" killings—i.e., beheadings that have taken place in a different context and were committed by a different group. Such rumors that emphasize specific, unverified acts of brutality against infants and that attempt to connect them to patterns of violence carried out by unconnected Islamist groups have the potential to become dangerous propaganda.

The media were not alone in denying the beheadings.

"The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas has strongly dismissed the false claims promoted by some Western media outlets, such as Palestinian freedom fighters killing children and targeting civilians," Hamas said Wednesday on its Telegram channel.

Hamas posted a video on Telegram Thursday that appears to show its members abducting an infant and a toddler from Holit, one of the southern Israeli border towns the Iran-backed terrorist group overran last weekend. The caption describes the terrorists as "showing compassion for children."

The facts: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released Thursday what it described as "horrifying photos of babies murdered and burned by the Hamas monsters."

Children, women, and the elderly were among at least 1,300 people killed and 126 taken hostage by Hamas, including a number of Americans. Much of Hamas's barbarity was documented in gory videos that the Iran-backed terrorist group posted online.

Israel has declined to officially confirm that babies were beheaded, and the Israeli military spokesperson's office did not respond Friday to the Washington Free Beacon's request for comment. But an Israeli military spokeswoman and a reporter at Israel's i24 News separately this week said that soldiers told them of seeing children and babies beheaded at Kfar Aza, another terrorized community near the border of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Yossi Landau, the head of operations for the southern region of Zaka, a volunteer emergency response group in Israel, told CBS News on Wednesday that he saw with his own eyes children and babies who had been beheaded.

"I saw a lot more that cannot be described for now," he added, speaking of bodies of parents and children that showed clear signs of torture, "because it's very hard to describe."

Published under: Gaza , Hamas , Israel , Media