Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler has found a topic on which to consistently shame President Joe Biden: being too much against Hamas. Earlier, Kessler condemned Biden for not trusting Hamas’s casualty reports despite admitting combatant deaths are lumped in with non-combatants and on Wednesday, Kessler added the claim that Hamas beheaded Israeli babies.
After paragraphs of exposition, Kessler warns, “In many conflicts, there are reports of atrocities against babies or children. As horrific as any such atrocities are, accounts can be exaggerated.”
Eventually getting to specifics, Kessler writes, “The manner of death in many cases is still unclear.”
To that end, he interviewed the notoriously anti-Israel academic Rashid Khalidi who tried to cast doubt on Hamas’s barbarity of October 7, “We are still waiting for forensic evidence about the destruction of life and property in border settlements and cars: was all of that caused by the light arms and RPGs Hamas fighters had with them, or was some of it caused by the tank artillery and Hellfire missiles employed in retaking them?”
Further casting doubt, Kessler adds, “If Hamas, a disciplined militia group, engaged in beheadings, it would be a new terror tactic for the organization. Experts said Hamas has not previously been tied to beheadings.”
Hamas is not a militia group; it is literally the Gaza government. It is a terrorist organization with an army that controls a sort-of proto-state.
That aside, after several quotes from these experts, including Tareq Baconi, Kessler gives a history of beheadings from John the Baptist to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which did decapitate a three-month old in 2011 to say that it is possible that October 7 “allowed Palestinians not associated with Hamas to opportunistically join the attacks.”
After over 1,400 words, Kessler finally gets around to eye-witness testimony, “In a video posted on Oct. 26, Israel Defense Forces Col. Golan Vach told reporters that at Kibbutz Beeri he had encountered a woman shot in the back, who was covering a ‘small baby’ about 1 or 2 years old. ‘The baby was decapitated,’ he said. ‘I carried the baby in my own hands.’”
When asked why no photo exists, Vach replied that “I have limits. I do not take a picture of a decapitated baby.”
Additionally, “on Oct. 28, Eli Beer, president and founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, a first-responder organization, told the Republican Jewish Committee: ‘I saw little kids who were beheaded. We didn’t know which head belongs to which kid.’ He did not describe the ages.”
Kessler concludes, “There is little dispute that many of the civilians killed by militants on Oct. 7 died in especially brutal ways. But caution is still warranted, especially at the presidential level, about statements that babies were beheaded. The available evidence does not need exaggeration.”
While Kessler ends his article there, fellow fact-checker Sara Swann also revisited the claim of beheaded babies on November 21, and she notes “The Media Line, an American news agency covering the Middle East, reported Oct. 20 that Dr. Chen Kugel, the [National Center for Forensic Medicine’s] director, said the victims ranged in age from 3 months to 90 years old, and many bodies are without heads.”
In that report Aaron Poris adds that includes babies and the only questions are how and when.
Ironically, Swann’s report came after PolitiFact was shamed for excluding Israeli statements, such as Kugel’s, in report the previous day.