The Israeli government has not confirmed the specific claim that Hamas attackers cut off the heads of babies during their shock attack on Saturday, an Israeli official told CNN, contradicting a previous public statement from the prime minister’s office .
“There have been cases where Hamas militants have carried out beheadings and other atrocities similar to those of ISIS. However, we cannot confirm whether the victims were men or women, military or civilians, adults or children,” the official said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said people had been beheaded by Hamas during an appearance Thursday alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken, but did not say whether they were children.
Explosive allegations that children were beheaded at Kibbutz Kfar Aza surfaced in Israeli media on Tuesday. The Israel Defense Forces later described the scene as a “massacre” in a statement to CNN. Women, young children and the elderly were “brutally massacred according to the method of action of IS”, the Israeli army said.
Tal Heinrich, Netanyahu’s spokesman, said Wednesday that babies and young children had been found with “decapitated heads” in Kfar Aza.
US President Joe Biden appeared to confirm this information. In a roundtable discussion with Jewish community leaders on Wednesday, he said: “I’ve been doing this for a long time, I never really thought I would see…confirmed images of terrorists beheading children.” »
A US administration official later clarified Biden’s comments, telling CNN that neither Biden nor his aides had seen photos or received confirmed reports of children or infants being beheaded by Hamas . The official clarified that Biden was referring to public comments from Israeli media and officials.
An IDF spokesman, Jonathan Conricus, said later in the day that the terrorists had probably achieved beheadings of babies in Kibbutz Be’eri.
“We received very, very disturbing reports from the ground that babies had been decapitated… I think we can now say with relative confidence that this is unfortunately what happened in Beeri,” he said. he declares.
Israeli officials initially avoided discussing the details of how their citizens were killed. Instead, they compared Hamas’ brutality to that of ISIS, the Sunni terrorist group that beheaded and burned prisoners alive.
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Hamas denied the allegations on Wednesday. Izzat al-Risheq, a senior official and spokesperson for the Islamist militant group, said international media had “spread lies about our Palestinian people and the resistance, claiming that members of the Palestinian resistance were beheading children and attacking women without any evidence to support such statements. assertions and lies.
Al-Risheq’s claim that Hamas did not attack women is blatantly false. Women, children and elderly people in kibbutzim like Kfar Aza and Beeri were killed in the surprise attack. Videos posted online and verified by CNN show women who attended the music festival targeted by the group’s gunmen being kidnapped.
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CNN scoured hundreds of hours of media published online to try to corroborate accounts of atrocities committed by Hamas. In one video, which CNN deemed authentic but could not geolocate, an attacker attacks an injured man with a gardening tool in an attempt to decapitate him. But CNN has seen nothing that would appear to confirm the allegations of children being beheaded.
CNN also visited the ransacked ruins of Kfar Aza on Tuesday and saw no evidence of decapitated youths. Israeli officials have also not released photographs of the incident.
But the fact that Israeli officials have not backed up their claims with photographic evidence is not surprising: sharing such graphic images would be considered deeply insensitive. “Due to the dignity of the dead, we do not talk about their appearance,” said Maj. Nir Dinar, an IDF spokesman. “It’s a dead baby. Does it matter whether it is a burn or a decapitation?»