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Fact Check: Hamas ‘Beheading Babies’ Story Based on Weak Evidence

Israeli soldiers stand near the body of a Palestinian militant in Kfar Aza, in the south of Israel, bordering Gaza Strip on October 10, 2023. InternationalIndiaAfricaAmid the fresh escalation of violence in the Middle East, a story by Israeli i24NEWS reporter Nicole Zedeck from Kfar Aza, in which she reported that Israeli soldiers claimed they had found babies with heads severed by Hamas militants, was seized upon by the Western mainstream press, despite a lack of official confirmation.The Western mainstream press has yet again dipped into its playbook of hawking unproven claims and peddling what are often false narratives. Gut-wrenching headlines like “Hamas cut the throats of babies,” “An act of sheer evil,” and “Massacre of innocents” were emblazoned across a plethora of media outlets after an Israeli reporter claimed that bodies of babies, including some with their heads cut off, had been stumbled upon by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers in the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Aza.Amid the latest spiral of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, an i24NEWS reporter was among the journalists invited to survey the aftermath of the infiltration of southern Israel by Hamas fighters. As IDF soldiers went from house to house removing the bodies of victims in the kibbutz near the Gaza border, the reporter, Nicole Zedeck, said:“Talking to some of the soldiers here, they say what they witnessed as they’ve been walking through these communities is bodies of babies with their heads cut off and families gunned down in their beds…We can see some of these soldiers right now, comforting each other.”Sputnik fact-checked the media hype around the swirling Hamas “beheadings” story, and found it to be based on weak evidence.© Photo : social mediaSocial media screenshot featuring front pages of Western media outlets.Social media screenshot featuring front pages of Western media outlets.The unverified news of Hamas fighters reportedly beheading 40 Israeli babies swiftly took off on social media platforms, shared and retweeted despite not being verified by any news outlet.The Israeli military does not have any data confirming the alleged massacre of women, elderly people, and children in Kfar Aza, an army representative told Sputnik.The Israel Defense Forces, alternatively referred to by the Hebrew-language acronym Tzahal, is not in possession of any information regarding allegations that “Hamas beheaded babies,” Turkiye’s Anadolu news agency reported, after requesting a comment from the IDF. “We have seen the news, but we do not have any details or confirmation about that,” an IDF spokesperson was cited as saying.

Palestinian militants based in the Gaza Strip launched an offensive against Israel dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7, launching thousands of missiles while other groups breached the border and advanced into Israeli territory. The Israel Defense Forces retaliated with airstrikes against the Gaza Strip. The attack prompted Israel to declare a state of war, and put the Gaza Strip under full blockade, cutting off food, gas, and electricity supplies. Israeli and Palestinian authorities have reported that hundreds of people have died and thousands have been injured in the flare-up.

The Palestinian movement Hamas has also vehemently dismissed reports that Gazan fighters allegedly attacked civilians and killed children during the operation near the Gaza Strip.“The [Hamas] movement categorically rejects the false accusations fabricated by certain Western media outlets, most recently of the alleged killings of children, their beheadings and attacks on civilians,” it stated on its Telegram account. Hamas added that such false claims are “aimed at covering up war crimes and [Israel’s] genocide against the Palestinian people.”The movement noted that it exclusively targets “[Israel’s] military machine and the security system built [by the Israeli authorities],” calling on Western media to “be objective and professional in reporting the latest events around the Gaza Strip.”Incidentally, the correspondent who eagerly spread the “Hamas beheaded 40 children” news, without any images or official statements to buttress them, later retracted her claim, and was quoted in media reports as saying:“I just wanted to clarify that I did not tweet 40 babies had been beheaded. I tweeted that foreign media had been told women and children had been decapitated but we had not been shown bodies – which was my response to reports which had gone viral about the 40 babies. I realized the way my tweet was written was too short to explain the full context, so deleted it. My headline of my story references that toddlers were killed.”However, the reporter’s words fell on deaf ears, as the media frenzy had already caught fire.There is no shortage of similar instances when the mainstream press has devoured deliberate distortions of facts to fit the Western narrative.RussiaFrench Volunteer: I Witnessed Bucha Frame-Up1 August 2022, 13:42 GMT

Bucha Frame-Up

Amid Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, in early April, 2022, the Kiev regime’s media and social networks published graphic photos and videos of allegedly dead bodies strewn in the streets of Bucha. Russian troops had withdrawn from the Ukrainian town on March 30 as Ukrainian forces shelled it with artillery, tanks, and multiple launch rocket systems. After Ukrainian forces, including the neo-Nazi Azov* regiment, entered the city, they did not report any casualties among the locals. On April 2, Ukraine’s National Police, which also entered the town, filmed a video showing the city’s streets and damaged buildings. Shortly after, Kiev claimed that Bucha was full of corpses, accusing Russia of war crimes and providing a video showing numerous alleged bodies lying in the streets – while the previous clip had failed to show any.Ukrainian authorities blamed the alleged killings on Russia, despite many corpses in the videos wearing white armbands, which may have been considered Russian insignia by Ukrainian troops. Moscow denounced the allegations, with the Russian Ministry of Defense saying that this was yet another provocation, and stressing that not a single Bucha resident had been harmed by the Russian military while the city was under its control. It underscored that Ukrainian forces shelled the city after Russian troops had already withdrawn from the area. It should be noted that before reports of the mass killings surfaced, the Ukrainian police announced an operation in the settlement to “clear the area of saboteurs and accomplices of Russian troops,” which also raises questions about possible preparations for a false flag operation. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called on the international community to conduct an impartial investigation into the provocation in Bucha. While Moscow demanded that international leaders should not rush to make sweeping accusations, but listen to Russia’s arguments, the Western mainstream media wasted no time in jumping on the graphic footage and peddling the uncorroborated “Bucha massacre” story, while branding Russia as the culprit.Russia’s Special Operation in UkraineKiev’s Bucha Provocation Aimed at Disrupting Peace Talks & Prolonging Conflict, Observers Say4 April 2022, 19:58 GMT

Alleged Chemical Attack in Douma, Syria

On April 7, 2018, a number of NGOs, including the White Helmets, alleged that chemical weapons were used in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, by the Syrian government. Chlorine bombs were allegedly dropped on the city, killing dozens and poisoning many locals, who were rushed to hospitals. Russia dismissed the report as fake news, with its Defense Ministry pointing out that the White Helmets were notorious for spreading falsehoods. On April 9, 2018, Russian military chemists visited the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, including the health facility shown in the White Helmets’ footage, but found neither cases of exposure to chemical weapons nor traces of toxic agents. Yet the Donald Trump administration used the frame-up to justify massive US and allied strikes on Syrian government targets.Both Moscow and Damascus lambasted the US attacks, citing the fact that Syria had joined the OPCW agreement in 2013 and destroyed its chemical stockpiles by 2014.However, the US narrative was supported by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in its 2019 report. Soon after, both a WikiLeaks release and whistleblower accounts revealed that the organization had suppressed evidence confirming that the Douma incident was a staged provocation.WorldGhouta Chemical Attack Showed How West ‘Will Do Everything’ to Disrupt Others21 August, 09:00 GMT

Kuwaiti Incubator Hoax

The so-called “Kuwaiti incubator hoax” in 1990 was based on unverified reports and a testimony given to the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus by a 15-year-old girl named Nayirah. She claimed that during the August 1990 invasion, Iraqi soldiers took Kuwaiti babies out of hospital incubators and left them to die. The horrendous story was resorted to by then-US President George H.W. Bush as a rationale behind supporting Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. However, when the war was over, it turned out that the story lacked any evidence.*Azov is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.

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