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12 Oct, 2023 05:34

White House backtracks on Biden’s ‘beheaded babies’ claim

The Israeli military says it is unable to “officially” substantiate the heinous allegation
White House backtracks on Biden’s ‘beheaded babies’ claim

US officials have backtracked after President Joe Biden claimed to have seen “confirmed pictures” of Palestinian militants “beheading children” in Israel, explaining that he had seen no images and was merely relaying claims from the Israeli government and media reports.

While Biden declared in an address to Jewish leaders on Wednesday that he was shocked by photos depicting brutal acts against Israeli babies, a White House spokesperson later told the Washington Post that officials were unaware of the pictures the president claimed to have seen. They added that they had no independent confirmation of reports that children were beheaded during a Hamas attack on Israel last weekend, despite Biden’s claim of having seen “confirmed” images.

“The president based his comments about the alleged atrocities on the claims from [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s spokesman and media reports from Israel,” the Post reported, citing the White House.

Asked about the claim by The Intercept, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it could not “confirm it officially,” but stressed that “you can assume it happened and believe the report.”

“Women, children, toddlers, and elderly were brutally butchered in an ISIS way of action and we are aware of the heinous acts Hamas is capable of,” an IDF spokesperson told the outlet.

A number of similar allegations have made the rounds following the surprise attack by Palestinian armed groups last Saturday, including claims that fighters had raped Israeli women. Biden also echoed those charges earlier this week, saying that women had been “raped, assaulted [and] paraded as trophies.” The accusation also remains unverified, with the Los Angeles Times appending an editor’s note to a recent op-ed noting that “such reports have not been substantiated.”

The IDF has launched waves of airstrikes on Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas-led assault, pounding residential areas and leveling entire apartment blocks in some raids. According to local officials, around 1,200 people have been killed in Israel since Saturday, and at least 1,100 in Gaza, where more than 5,000 were also reported wounded. Israel’s long-standing blockade on Gaza has also been tightened in recent days, after the government declared a “complete siege” to halt the flow of food, fuel, and medicine into the densely populated territory.