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Le Monde debunks Israel claims that Hamas decapitated 40 babies

April 5, 2024 at 12:49 pm

People, carrying banners and Palestinian flags gather to stage solidarity demonstration with Palestinians and protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza in Paris, France on January 13, 2024 [Ümit Dönmez – Anadolu Agency]

French Le Monde newspaper has called the Israeli media’s use of “sordid but unfounded allegation” to push the need for a war on Gaza, fuelling accusations of disinformation.

Under the title “‘40 beheaded babies’: Deconstructing the rumour at the heart of the information battle between Israel and Hamas”, the paper said that  amidst the flood of accounts of murder and looting committed by the Palestinian resistance fighters on 7 October, one rumour took on extraordinary proportions; the alleged decapitating of 40 babies in the Kfar Aza kibbutz.

It added that the Israeli government press office confirmed that “there were never 40 decapitated babies. Not in Kfar Aza nor in any other kibbutz.” In spite of this, it continued, the rumour persists and has been exploited by Israel.

Following the 7 October cross border infiltration into Israel by resistance fighters, Le Monde explained, “because of the risk of explosive booby traps, journalists could only enter a few houses. The only Israeli corpses they saw were in body bags, all adult-sized.”

Though the general staff made no mention of dead babies on the ground, journalists had the opportunity to question Israeli soldiers and first-aid workers, “whose accounts were murkier and disturbing”, according to the report.

Among the responders on-site were members of ZAKA, an ultra-Orthodox NGO tasked with body recovery.

“Lacking medical training, some [ZAKA volunteers] misunderstood the identity or age of the victims,” according to Le Monde.

ZAKA, which was also present at the kibbutz Be’eri, played a pivotal role in spreading misinformation in the aftermath of the event, according to numerous Israeli media reports. The NGO, which is facing financial difficulties, seemed to exploit the tragedy to solicit donations, as reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in February.

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