Were babies beheaded by Hamas?

October 16, 2023 • 12:15 pm

All over the media last week, we heard about the butcheries of Hamas in southern Israel. One of the most disgusting claims was that Hamas had beheaded babies; some of them dead, and others, perhaps, while still alive (it’s hard to tell unless there’s a bullet wound). Even Biden made that claim, and here’s a headline from the New York Post (click to read):

In fact, although there’s no doubt that 40 babies were killed, the claim that they were beheaded has not been substantiated (see here and here).  The weird thing is that one of the links above is a debunking from CNN, while the New York Post quotes a CNN reporter:

Top CNN reporter Nic Robertson, dressed in a military helmet and flak jacket, said, “There were so many murdered members of this Kibbutz.

“Men, women, children, hands bound, shot, executed, heads cut,” he said.

Well, did Robertson see babies with their heads cut off or not?

Further, Wikipedia summarizes how the rumor spread and who’s rejected it (there are references, which I’ve left in).

Reports of Hamas beheading babies were reported by a range of news organizations on 10 October, after an i24 News reporter interviewed members of the Israel Defense Force, at the scene of the Kfar Aza massacre, who reported seeing babies whose heads had been cut off.[627] CBS News later interviewed Yossi Landau, regional head of the first responder organisation ZAKA, who claimed that both babies and minors had been beheaded alongside corpses of dismembered adults.[628] An IDF spokesperson stated to Insider that they would not investigate the allegation further, citing that it would be “disrespectful for the dead” to do so.[629][p] The government of Israel later posted photos of dead babies that they said were killed in the attack. The Jerusalem Post stated that these images confirmed that babies were decapitated,[631] while NBC News stated that no photographic evidence that babies were decapitated was provided.[632] US President Joe Biden said that he had seen photographic evidence of terrorists beheading children, though a White House spokesperson later clarified that he was referring to media reports and statements by Netanyahu.[632] Comments from Israeli officials and media have walked back or softened on the claims.[632] CNN reported that it could not confirm claims that children were beheaded

In view of the lack of evidence, we’ll have to put “Hamas beheaded babies” as an unsubstantiated claim. But it’s so weird to see people arguing on television about whether the babies had their heads cut off, because IT DOESN’T MATTER.  Hamas killed 40 babies, and whether they beheaded them, shot them, or skewered them, it’s still a disgusting act of butchery that, in conjunction with other murders, justifies retaliation by Israel. Granted, it takes a certain kind of barbarity to cut off a baby’s head compared to shooting it, but in the end the results are the same: a life that could have been lived is gone.  It’s almost as if those people who argue against babies’ heads being cut off are somehow saying that this mitigates what Hamas did!  It doesn’t matter!

There has been further debate about whether women captives were really raped by Hamas (see first two links above).  I’m far more willing to believe that, as I’ve seen at least one video (you’ve probably seen it, too), in which a barefooted, abducted concertgoer is yanked out of a trunk by her hair, with a huge bloodstain on the rear of her jeans, and then shoved into a car. When I first saw that I thought, “how did she get blood on her rear?”  And then the penny dropped.  (You can see the video, among others, in this tweet, but the contents are disturbing). There’s another video showing a Hamas terrorist in a truck with a dead naked woman, and I’ve seen a video in which a terrorist refers to women as sex slaves.

Further, PBS quotes Netanyahu saying that some of the captives at the music festival were raped, and that some soldiers were beheaded.  It’s unlikely that we’re going to see this evidence with our own eyes, but I find this more credible than the beheaded-baby story.  Whatever you think of Bibi, I don’t think he’s lying here.

Whether there is credible evidence of rape does matter, just like it matters whether babies were beheaded alive or dead: it affects our opinion of people’s moral debauchery—but in this case NOT THAT MUCH. Whether the kidnapped women were raped or not, they were still kidnapped and taken to Gaza. Where it does matter, for rape, is in convicting people for crimes.

We already have enough evidence of extensive butchery to justify Israel’s present attempt to wipe out Hamas.  Although we have no videos of rapes, I find the claim credible, as I do that soldiers were beheaded. I don’t know about whether babies were beheaded, but I find that argument barely worth considering given the incontrovertible evidence that babies were killed.

We’ll know more as the days pass, and, with luck, if we get some hostages back, either alive or dead. But I’m pessimistic that we’ll ever see them alive again (there are about 155).  The minute they were taken, I immediately wrote them off as dead, simply because I’m a pessimist and thus would be elated if all or some came back alive. (I adhere to the mantra, “A pessimist is never disappointed.”) I am expressing my own neuroses here, and not trying to upset the families of hostages as I have no information about them.

At any rate, the things we do know about the attack is sufficient to justify what Israel did.  The arguments about whether babies were beheaded or only shot makes me ill, but the question of rapes is more important.  But none of these debates do anything to affect Israel’s right to defend itself.

21 thoughts on “Were babies beheaded by Hamas?

  1. Agreed. Committing unspeakable atrocities already crosses the line into, well, committing unspeakable atrocities.

  2. I will remind everybody here that there is a commentator (‘WMD Kitty’) at Pharyngula who insisted the rapes and murders committed by Hamas, were “staged”, and was all actually Israel’s doing. This isn’t squabbling over the details of the how the murders were committed, this poster denies they happened, or if they did, they were staged by Israel.

    An actual blogger at FTB (‘Stderr’) put forward a “solution” – encourage Israelis to move to various southern US states, so there would be no more need for Israel. I wonder which far right/Islamist website they got this idea from?

    Further afield, antisemites on social media are clicking into top gear in spreading “false flag” conspiracy theories, largely absolving Hamas of committing any rapes, kidnappings, and murders. But these same people will celebrate the fact Hamas raped, kidnapped, and murdered.

    Dark times, at the moment.

    1. The idea that Israel should disband and its former citizens move to the Southern United States doesn’t sound far-right to me, but far-left. It both fits the idea that the Jews are white colonialists occupying indigenous lands and manages a dig at Republican States who’ve been complaining about immigration.

      When people angrily insist that some story was made up by the enemy, try to get them to clarify what they surely must be trying to say: if it HAD happened, that would have been bad enough to get them to change their mind about the issue. Their stance would be modified under those circumstances.

      If, on reflection, no, they actually wouldn’t care, then what’s the point of the hot denials? “That’s a filthy, undeserved insult to their noble character — but if it’s true, then good for them” falls pretty flat.

    2. Far right? The idea of “no Isreal” would come from the exact opposite. It would probably come from the kind that cheers on the likes of Hamas and Hashida Talib. Those would be far left “progressives”. I put that in quotes bc antisemitism seems anything but progressive.

  3. As you say, it doesn’t much matter. I still appreciate your efforts to highlight what is known to be a fact and what isn’t. What matters is that Hamas/Gaza carried out an act of war against Israel (in a particularly depraved fashion) and Israel is fully justified to declare war in response. War is a matter of international law, how states defend themselves and settle their irreconcilable existential differences. All of us need to see Israel as an ally, as the only democracy in the Middle East. That support shouldn’t be contingent on just how barbaric Hamas was — were those incinerated corpses alive or dead when they were set alight? — or the mere fact that some innocents will be killed by Israeli fire in Gaza. Intentions matter, both in going to war and fighting in war.

    The idea that condemnation of Hamas should evaporate just because the babies were “only” killed and not beheaded is just as morally vacuous as the idea that support and good will for Israel should be withdrawn just because someone sees white phosphorus smoke over Gaza, or because Hamas will parade photos of dead civilians and wrecked houses. It’s not so much that the moral compass is askew as it is that its magnet has worn out and the needle spins all over the place.

  4. I think we can count on the BBC for a learned, recondite discussion of what Hamas really aims for. One of the talking heads might even conjecture that maybe, perhaps, subject to further analysis, a major Hamas policy goal is to kill Jews. Who could have suspected such a thing?

  5. I feel I’ve entered an alternate reality when I read people arguing that Hamas are not bad guys because there is no evidence that they beheaded the babies they killed.

    And when I say “killed”, I mean “murdered”.

  6. I agree with you about 99%. But I do want to quibble with this: “justifies retaliation by Israel.” I don’t think “retaliation” is the right word or concept. It’s not a matter of revenge, or an eye for an eye. What needs to be done is forward-looking, not past-looking. Hamas needs to be eradicated not because of what it did, but because of what it almost surely will continue to do in the future if left in power. For a thought experiment, suppose we could put something in the Gazan water supply that would cause all the current jihadists to see the error of their ways and decide that they just want to live in peace–and that we could somehow know that this change would be effective on the whole population, and permanent. In that scenario, there would be no justification for killing any of them in “retaliation” for their past evil deeds. The destruction of Hamas is preventive, not retributive. Or at least I think that’s the better way to judge the justification for it.

  7. https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-767951

    The Jerusalem Post can now confirm based on verified photos of the bodies that the reports of babies being burnt and decapitated in Hamas’s assault on Kfar Aza are correct. May their memory be a blessing.

    The photos were shown to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his visit to Israel on Thursday by the Public Diplomacy Directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office. Later in the day, the photos were published by the Prime Minister’s Office on Twitter. The photos are graphic and have a content warning covering them until a button reading “show” is pressed.

    1. That should be considered adequate proof that it really happened. But some people will move the goalposts.

  8. Jerry wrote:

    In fact, although there’s no doubt that 40 babies were killed, the claim that they were beheaded has not been substantiated…

    I watched the first report of the decapitation of babies live on i24 News. Live from the recovery operation at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, the reporter said that soldiers stated seeing decapitated babies (she did not say how many, not that it matters). Later, or perhaps the next day, during the recovery operation at Kibbutz Be’eri, i24 News reported that soldiers there also observed decapitated babies. As a matter of Jewish law and common decency, Israeli TV will only show bodies that have been bagged.

    IMO, multiple firsthand witnesses reporting the same thing is confirmation. In addition, I have seen a video clip of a Hamas terrorist hacking off the head of an adult male body in one of the kibbuzim. I don’t think decapitation of adults to decapitation of babies is much of a stretch for Hamas.

  9. This is exactly the sort of fodder that far left factcheckers thrive on. If 38 babies and one toddler were decapitated, they would publish supposed check showing the claim “false”. Then, lots of gullible people would be able to reassure themselves that this proves that no babies were harmed.

    Multiple members of the IDF and the international press reported that they had seen evidence that babies were beheaded. Others were burned alive. Young women were raped then burned alive.

    I do not think that there is a minimum acceptable number of beheaded babies to qualify the perpetrators as monsters. Beheading is a thing for those people. You rarely see non-Islamic people taking selfies with severed heads.

    This sort of relates to the issue of proportionality, which is an emerging topic since the Palestinians FA’d and are about to find out. What is a reasonable response for each child deliberately sought out for such horrors?

  10. And the headlines are now all about how Israel “must show restraint,” and “must obey International law”! Well, I expect they will do a far better job than the murderous barbarians of Hamas, but if it were up to me—well, it’s best that it is not up to me. None of us who are not Jewish can begin to understand the memories of centuries of pogroms and how they must feel. We cannot tell them what to do here: we should let them do as they see fit, and trust them to be more civilised than those who would slaughter them all. As for the likes of WMDKitty and her ilk, I have no words to describe the complete loss of humanity they display. So corrupted is their morality, that they feel nothing but virtuous in applauding such Jew-slaughter. They disgust me nearly as much as those who kill babies, whether by beheading or not. The moral high ground is never held by people who kill babies, those who applaud them, or those who claim it was ‘staged’ by Israel.

  11. What does this have to do with the post, which is about establishing whether this or that happened. Given your pseudonym, it seems as if you’re thinking Netanyahu’s comments somehow justify what Hamas did: it provided “context”. Nonsense.

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